The Tampa Bay Rays have defeated the Oakland Athletics in the 2019 American League Wildcard game to advance to the American League Divisional Series. In the ALDS, the Rays opponent will be the Houston Astros who, after some deadline additions, are the favorites out of the American League.
99 heat FTW. pic.twitter.com/64IzYBTHtH
— MLB (@MLB) October 3, 2019
This wildcard game may not have broken twitter-like Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto did in the National League Wildcard game. However, just like the Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers game, the power was evident early on in the game. Perhaps, one of the Rays unsung heroes in the game was Yandy Díaz who smacked a home run in the first inning and then another one. In total, the Rays hit four home runs on the night to mount their lead over the Athletics which would prove to be enough with their pitching staff.
The Athletics started Sean Manaea was unable to get the job done, only throwing two innings before turning things over to the bullpen. Offensively the Athletics had eight singles but were unable to get anything moving to produce a comeback as the Nationals did. The Athletics pitching staff was able to settle down after Manaea was pulled. The Rays pitching staff was the real deciding factor in this game. Manaea allowed four earned runs over the two innings the threw.
After signing Charlie Morton this offseason as one of the most undervalued pitchers on the market, fitting the Rays funky pitching staff well, worked out quite well for them. Morton went five innings allowing five hits while striking out four. Morton would hand the ball to Diego Castillo who threw two scoreless innings only allowing two hits while striking out three. One of the Rays trade deadline acquisitions Nick Anderson came in next, throwing an inning and a third of scoreless baseball striking out four of the five batters he faced. To close things out, Rays manager Kevin Cash handed the ball to Emilio Pagan who recorded the final two outs clinching the Rays wildcard win.
The small-ball Rays have knocked off the Athletics and look to put up a fight against the Astros who are the favorite. The Rays have so much flexibility on both sides of the baseball, not posing the typical power threat like a team like the New York Yankees, but they have positional versatility and find ways to get the job done. The Rays pitching staff is unique as well, and Cash will have to find ways to get efficient wins if he hopes to get through the Astros and advance to the ALCS.
The Rays will take on the Astros starting the ALDS off on Friday at 2:05 PM EST in Houston at Minute Maid Park. With Wildcard games completed, the divisional series begins, and each team hopes to move just one step closer to a World Series berth and shot at the glory.