A look at the American League wild-card game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics:
Schedule: Wednesday, at Oakland, California, 8:09 p.m. EDT (ESPN).
Season Series: Athletics won 4-3.
Rays: 2B Joey Wendle (.231, 3 HRs, 19 RBIs in 75 games), LF Tommy Pham (.273, 21, 68, 33 2Bs), RF Austin Meadows (.291, 33, 89 in 138 games), C Travis d’Arnaud (.263, 16, 67 in 92 games with Rays; .087, 0, 2 in 10 games with Mets, and 1 at-bat in only game with Dodgers), 1B Ji-Man Choi (.261, 19, 63), DH Brandon Lowe (.270, 17, 51 in 82 games) or Avisail Garcia (.282, 20, 72, 25 2Bs in 125 games), 3B Matt Duffy (.252, 1, 12 in 46 games), CF Kevin Kiermaier (.228, 14, 55, 19 SBs in 129 games), SS Willy Adames (.254, 20, 52).
Athletics: SS Marcus Semien (.285, 33, 92, 123 runs, 43 2Bs), RF Ramon Laureano (.288, 24, 67, 10 assists), 3B Matt Chapman (.249, 36, 91, 102 runs, 36 2Bs), 1B Matt Olson (.267, 36, 91), CF Mark Canha (.273, 26, 58), DH Khris Davis (.220, 23, 73), LF Chad Pinder (.240, 13, 47), C Sean Murphy (.245, 4, 8 in 20 games) or Josh Phegley (.239, 12, 62), 2B Jurickson Profar (.218, 20, 67).
Rays: RH Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA, 240 Ks, 194 2/3 innings, 33 starts).
Athletics: LH Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21 in 5 starts) or RH Mike Fiers (15-4, 3.90).
Rays: RH Emilio Pagan (4-2, 2.31 ERA, 20/28 saves), RH Yonny Chirinos (9-5, 3.85 in 26 games, 18 starts), LH Ryan Yarbrough (11-6, 4.13 in 28 games, 14 starts), RH Nick Anderson (3-0, 2.11 in 23 appearances with Rays; 2-4, 3.92, 1 save in 45 appearances with Marlins), RH Chaz Roe (1-3, 4.06 in 71 appearances), RH Oliver Drake (5-2, 3.21), RH Diego Castillo (5-8, 3.41), LH Colin Poche (5-5, 4.70), LH Brendan McKay (2-4, 5.14 in 13 games, 11 starts), RH Andrew Kittredge (1-0, 4.17 in 37 appearances, 7 as opener), RH Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78, 70 Ks, 60 2/3 IP in 12 starts), LH Blake Snell (6-8, 4.29, 147 Ks, 107 IP in 23 starts).
Athletics: RH Liam Hendriks (4-4, 1.80, 25/32 saves, 124 Ks in 85 IP), RH Yusmeiro Petit (5-3, 2.71), LH Jake Diekman (1-7, 4.65 for Oakland and Kansas City), RH Joakim Soria (2-4, 4.30, 1 save), LH Jesus Luzardo (0-0, 1.50, 2 saves in 6 games), LH A.J. Puk (2-0, 3.18 in 10 games), RH Chris Bassitt (10-5, 3.81), RH Homer Bailey (13-9, 4.57 in 31 starts for Oakland and Kansas City).
First postseason meeting between two small-budget franchises that have thrived in recent years despite limited resources. … Teams haven’t seen each other since June, with the A’s taking two of three at Tampa Bay before they split a four-game series in Oakland later that month. … Clubs played a wild game in Oakland on June 20, with the Rays scoring three runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 4-1 lead before A’s answered with four in bottom half to win on Chapman’s three-run homer off Castillo. … Olson hit 3 HRs in seven games vs. Rays this season. Chapman and Laureano each went deep twice. … A’s managed just one run in 13 1/3 innings against Morton. He pitched seven scoreless at home June 10 and went 6 1/3 innings June 20 in Oakland. … Fiers went 1-0 with 2.25 ERA in two starts vs. Tampa Bay. He was 9-0 with 2.90 ERA at home. … Manaea missed most of season recovering from shoulder surgery but has been outstanding since returning in September. … Oakland was one of three teams Rays had losing record against during season. The other two — Yankees (7-12) and Twins (2-5) — also made playoffs. … Tampa Bay’s 32-60 record at Oakland Coliseum is second-worst at any road venue where Rays have played minimum of 10 games.
Rays: A year after finishing with more wins (90) than any other team that didn’t make postseason, Rays (96-66) are in playoffs for fifth time in franchise history — first since 2013, when they won Game 163 tiebreaker to claim second AL wild card. … Fifth-year skipper Kevin Cash will be managing his first postseason game. … Rays made playoffs four times in six-season span from 2008-13 under Joe Maddon, including run to 2008 World Series. … Since start of 2008, when the Devil Rays changed team colors and rebranded themselves as the Rays, Tampa Bay has won 90 or more games seven times. The Dodgers (8), Yankees (7) and Red Sox (7) are the only other teams to do it that often. … Won only previous wild-card game 4-0 at Cleveland in 2013. Kiermaier is only player still on team from that game. Bullpen coach Stan Boroski is lone coach remaining. … Club with baseball’s lowest payroll ($66.4 million) believes it has good shot to make noise in October because pitching staff has been bolstered lately by return of Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner, along with Glasnow and Chirinos. … Meadows was one of hottest hitters in the majors during September. … Lowe is back from stint on 60-day injured list, and Choi seems to have knack for producing in key situations. … Rays have 10 players on active roster with previous postseason experience. … Tampa Bay put 24 players on injured list this year. Morton, Adames and Pham are only ones who spent entire season on active roster. … Rays won franchise-record 48 road games this year, including two in Oakland.
Athletics: Oakland (97-65) made playoffs as a wild card for second straight season and tied last year’s team for club’s most wins since 2002. … A’s were 37-36 on June 16 but have gone 60-29 since for best record in majors. … Oakland is making 10th postseason appearance this century but has advanced past Division Series just once, in 2006. Team is 1-14 during that span with a chance to move on, including losses in wild-card game to Kansas City in 2014 and Yankees last season. … A’s set franchise record with 257 homers and are one of 11 teams all-time to have at least seven players with 20 or more HRs. … Oakland went 35-14 in games started by lefties compared to 62-51 vs. right-handers. … A’s finished 52-29 at home for seventh-best record at Coliseum since moving to Oakland. … A’s starters are 17-4 with 3.89 ERA in past 37 games and have 68 wins on the season, second-most in majors behind Houston. … Davis finished on high note after struggling much of the season. He had 4 homers and 13 RBIs in his last 18 games after posting just 3 HRs and 22 RBIs over previous 57. Davis is third in majors with 156 HRs the past four years. … Semien matched Oakland record for runs (123), tied for third-most total bases (343) and broke Rickey Henderson’s franchise record with 31 homers from leadoff spot. He also is one of the top defensive shortstops in majors.
— Fresh Faces. Tampa Bay’s opening day roster included 17 players with two or fewer years of major league experience, including eight of nine relievers. Meadows and Lowe became first-time All-Stars. Others such as Glasnow, Chirinos, Adames, Yarbrough and Poche are eager to make names for themselves, too, on the postseason stage.
— Shaky Bullpen. The A’s rode their relievers to the playoffs last year but haven’t had nearly as much success out of the ‘pen in 2019. Oakland had a major league-worst 30 blown saves, setting a record for the most by a 90-win team. Hendriks enjoyed a strong season after taking over as closer, with his 122 Ks as a reliever setting an A’s record, but the setup situation was spotty. Oakland is hoping Puk and Luzardo, the organization’s top prospects as starters, can provide a boost as late-season call-ups in the bullpen.
— Bargain Catch. One of the best moves the cost-conscious Rays made all season was purchasing d’Arnaud from the Dodgers for $100,000 on May 10. After beginning the season in a 2-for-24 slump with the Mets and Dodgers, he’s been one of Tampa Bay’s most consistent players. In addition to having the second-most RBIs on the team since late May, he’s been solid defensively at catcher and also done a nice job at first base.
— Home Heartache. The A’s are playing their first home playoff game since 2013, when they were shut out by Justin Verlander and the Tigers in a decisive ALDS Game 5. Verlander also blanked the Athletics in Game 5 of a Division Series the previous year. Oakland is 0-5 in winner-take-all playoff games at home since 2000.
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