Welcome to Major League Baseball in October. Last night’s Wild Card round between the Nationals and Brewers illustrated just how dramatic post-season baseball can be. Now, with one Wild Card game played, it’s time for the Rays and A’s to show that small-market teams can play baseball.
It’s truly terrifying how similar these two teams are. While both are small-market teams who utilize tarps to cover upper-bowl seating in their stadium, they’re both very good at baseball. Of the 11 teams with the lowest payrolls in the league, only two had winning records — The Rays and A’s.
While it’s easy to get caught up with the similarities of the rhyming ‘Bay Area’ teams, differences do exist on the diamond.
The Rays’ pitching efforts has seen many winding turns through the season. Nonetheless, Tampa Bays’ staff on the mound has been one of the highlights of the Rays’ season. Posting the lowest ERA in the American League, the Rays’ bullpen is led by right-handed Ace, Charlie Morton.
The 35-year-old Morton boasts a .727 win percentage this year behind a 3.05 ERA on the season. It’s no surprise that the Rays will start Morton on the mound Wednesday night against Oakland with everything on the line.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) October 2, 2019
Tampa Bay manager, Kevin Cash said that he and his staff started lining Morton up for this game three weeks ago:
As for Charlie, he isn’t sweating the “win or go home” outing on Wednesday.
For the A’s, Sean Manaea earned the start for the Wild Card showdown. Manaea, a southpaw, carries a 4-0 record as the starter in 2019. The lefty, who underwent shoulder surgery in 2018, will pitch to a Rays lineup that features a handful of left-handed hitters.
From showing up to his first baseball tryout in jeans, to startin’ the Wild Card.
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) October 1, 2019
With two top-tier talents taking the mound on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see who has a better outing.
With the A’s starting a lefty in Manaea, it might throw a slight wrench in the Rays’ lineup.
In order to combat the left-handedness of Oakland’s starter, the Rays will likely shift to a more right-handed heavy lineup. That likely means excluding lefties Ji-Man Choi, Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle from the starting lineup.
For Oakland, the A’s manager Bob Melvin knows that his lineup is in for a challenge in facing the Rays’ ace.
Sudden Death Showdown
Oakland and Tampa Bay will play to survive on Wednesday from the Coliseum in Oakland. First pitch will go out at 8:10.