OAKLAND, Calif. – The Tampa Bay Rays and the host Oakland Athletics both seek their first postseason victory since 2013 when they meet in the American League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night.
The Rays make their first appearance in the playoffs since beating Cleveland in the AL Wild Card Game and losing to Boston in the AL Division Series while Oakland, which holds a 4-3 advantage against Tampa Bay in 2019, lost in this spot against the New York Yankees last year.
TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, ESPN
Tampa Bay went 48-33 on the road (second in the AL) and Oakland had the third-best record in the league at home (52-29). "Their pitching, those guys are electric," Rays manager Kevin Cash told mlb.com. "I know that we have our hands full. We mirror each other in so many ways. Whatever way they go, we like to think we can combat it, but they can come back and flip it on us. It's going to be a very interesting game and how it's managed." Matt Olson and Matt Chapman tied for the team lead with 36 homers and Olson batted .318 with three blasts against Tampa Bay this year while Austin Meadows led the way for the Rays all season, registering team highs with 33 homers and 89 RBIs. Tampa Bay will hand the ball to veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who posted career highs in wins (16), strikeouts (240) and innings (194 2/3) this year, and the Athletics turn to Sean Manaea after the lefty finished the regular season with four straight victories.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA) vs. Athletics LH Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21)
Morton signed a two-year $30 million contract in the offseason and hasn't disappointed, allowing two or fewer runs in 22 of 33 starts and going 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA in September. The 35-year-old New Jersey native pitched the final four innings (one run permitted) to get the win in Game 7 of the World Series with Houston in 2017. Jurickson Profar is 4-for-11 with a homer and a double versus Morton, who is 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA in two starts against Oakland in 2019.
Manaea has been dominant in his first five starts of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery more than a year ago, permitting four runs on 16 hits with 30 strikeouts across 29 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old Indiana State product went 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA in 27 starts last season, including a four-run, five-inning loss to Tampa Bay. Travis d'Arnaud is 2-for-2 with a walk against Manaea, who is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts at home this season.
1. Oakland LF-DH Khris Davis struggled to a .220 batting average overall this year, but is 9-for-28 against the Rays in 2019 and has two career homers versus Morton.
2. Tampa Bay RHP Emilio Pagan, who was on Oakland's roster in the wild card game last year, led the Rays with 20 saves in 2019 and was second with a 0.83 WHIP.
3. Athletics RHP Liam Hendriks, who opened the wild card game last year, struck out 124 in 85 innings in 2019 and topped the team with 25 saves after a blown opportunity Saturday.
PREDICTION: Rays 5, Athletics 3