|5:09 PM PT6:09 PM MT7:09 PM CT8:09 PM ET20:09 ET0:09 GMT8:09 5:09 PM MST7:09 PM EST7:39 PM VEN4:09 UAE (+1)7:09 PM CT, October 2, 2019
Ring Central Coliseum, Oakland, California Attendance: 54,005
A's, Rays battle in wild card for date with Astros
Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics
- The Athletics went 4-3 against the Rays in 2019, with the teams splitting a four-game set in Oakland. From 2012-15, the road team won three of four AL Wild Card games, including Tampa Bay's 2013 win in Cleveland, but the away team has lost the last three, including Oakland's loss to the Yankees last year.
- Tampa Bay ranked second in MLB in ERA (3.65, trailing LAD -- 3.37), third in opponent average (.230) and third in strikeouts (1621). The Rays allowed an MLB-low 181 home runs, nine of which came against the A's, tied for second most by a non-divisional opponent against Tampa Bay in 2019 (Astros -- 12).
- Oakland started this season 19-25, but matched Houston for MLB's best record from May 16 forward at 78-40. A's pitchers posted a 3.84 ERA since May 16, third best in the AL, ahead of the Rays (3.93). Right-handers slugged .394 over this span, the lowest mark in the AL and third lowest in MLB.
- Since debuting for the Rays on September 20, 2018, Austin Meadows has slashed .289/.361/.552 with 34 HR, 93 RBI and 86 runs in 148 games. Only Carlos Pena (.627) and Evan Longoria (.567) posted a higher slugger percentage than Meadows' .552 mark through 148 games with the franchise (min. 500 PA).
- Three Athletics infielders hit 30+ home runs in 2019 -- Matt Chapman (36), Matt Olson (36) and Marcus Semien (33). The Astros (Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel) were the only other team to accomplish this in 2019. The last time three A's infielders hit 30+ homers in a season was in 2001, with Jason Giambi (38), Eric Chavez (32) and Miguel Tejada (31) pulling it off (based on position played in season).
- Charlie Morton posted a career-best 3.05 ERA in 2019 and fanned 200 batters for the second straight season, setting a new career high with 240 strikeouts. Morton had a 3.59 ERA on the road in 2019, up from 2.59 at home, while his opponent's OPS rose from .562 at home to .690 away from Tropicana Field.
- Sean Manaea went at least 5.0 innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs in all five of his 2019 starts after returning from injury in September, winning each of his last four. His 1.21 September ERA ranked fourth in MLB (min. 5 GS) behind Jack Flaherty (0.82), James Paxton (1.05) and Gerrit Cole (1.07).
- Brewers replace Grandal with M's Narvaez
- Mets acquire OF Marisnick from Astros
- Phils ink RHP Wheeler for 5 years, $118M
- Hamels, Braves agree to $18M for 1 year
- MLB mulls testing, no bans for opioids
The Oakland Athletics will attempt to rewrite history with the same script that failed them last year when they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League wild-card game on Wednesday night.
Staring at the daunting task of having to beat Rays All-Star right-hander Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA) in order to stay alive in the AL pennant chase, the A's once again have decided not to go with right-hander Mike Fiers.
Instead, manager Bob Melvin announced Tuesday that lefty Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21) will get the ball when the AL's winningest second-place clubs duel to see which earns the right to take on top-seeded Houston in the AL Divisional Series starting Friday.
"It came down to the fact that since Manaea has been back, he's pitched great every single time out," Melvin told reporters.
Manaea was one of the AL's top pitchers in September after returning from an absence of nearly 12 months following surgery on a torn labrum. His unbeaten record included winning both his home starts with a 2.13 ERA.
The 27-year-old has no postseason experience and has faced the Rays just three times in his career, going 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA.
Their most recent head-to-head was his weakest of the three outings. The Rays jumped on him for four runs and five hits in five innings in a 6-0 win in Oakland on May 30, 2018.
The starter decision comes a year after Fiers, the A's hottest pitcher down the stretch in 2018, was bypassed in the wild-card game in favor of "opener" Liam Hendriks. Manaea, Oakland's top winner last season, was not an option after having gotten injured in August.
The New York Yankees, playing at home, wasted no time taking control of the single-elimination game, as Aaron Judge hit Hendriks' ninth pitch for a two-run homer. The Yankees never trailed in a 7-2 win that ended Oakland's season.
Rays manager Kevin Cash had a much easier choice. Morton not only was his top pitcher this season, but also has postseason experience (2-2 with a 4.60 ERA in seven appearances) and has dominated the A's this season (1-0, 0.68 ERA in two starts).
"This is exactly why we signed him," Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said after a key win over the Yankees last week. "Everything he's done this year is exactly why we signed him."
The only run Morton allowed to the A's in 13 1/3 innings this season came in his only Oakland start, when he worked 6 1/3 innings and left a 1-1 game. The A's went on to win 5-4 with a four-run ninth inning.
One win wound up making a difference in determining the site of Wednesday's game, with the A's (97-65) having finished one game ahead of the Rays (96-66) in the wild-card race. Oakland won the tightly contested season series 4-3.
Morton has never won at Oakland (0-1) despite a 1.65 ERA in three starts. He also recorded a 7.52 ERA in his last five road starts.
Both teams finished the season strong, with Tampa Bay going 20-6 before losing its last two games, including a meaningless regular-season finale at Toronto, while Oakland went 18-6 before also dropping its last insignificant game at Seattle.
The teams are playing in the same postseason for just the second time. Both were eliminated in the 2013 AL Divisional series, a year when the Rays won at Cleveland 4-0 behind Alex Cobb in the wild-card game.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 1, 2019