The Tampa Bay Rays clubbed their way to figure victory in the 2019 American League Wild Card Game, and advance to face the juggernaut that is the Houston Astros. The Rays beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1 on Wednesday, powered by four home runs and a tough but solid effort from starting pitcher Charlie Morton.
The Rays jumped on A’s starter Sean Manaea almost immediately. Yandy Diaz hit a lead-off home run to give Tampa a 1-0 lead. Manaea settled down to strike out the side, but then gave up an infield single followed by a two-run homer to Avisail Garcia in the second inning. Manaea got out of the inning with two strikeouts, but then gave up another home run to Diaz leading off the third inning, and his evening was finished.
Tommy Pham added another home run in the fifth, but it did not prove necessary. The A’s threatened Charlie Morton several times, but repeatedly stranded multiple base runners. Morton looked like he might not last three innings, but he gutted out five innings and turned the game over to the Rays impressive bullpen. Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson, and Emilio Pagan combined to give up three hits and strike out eight batters over the final four innings in locking down the victory.
The Rays will now travel to Houston for Game 1 of the ALDS. The series opens on Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 p.m. ET. The game will air on FS1