In just over 19 hours, Sean Manaea is going to throw the first pitch in the 2019 American League Wild Card game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics. In just over three hours (after all, it is an American League game) one team will be leaving for Houston and the other team will heading home to pack up their lockers.
Manaea gets the call
The A’s had to decide between using Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea as the starter on Wednesday night. Fiers has been “the ace” of the staff with 33 starts, a 15-4 record, a 3.90 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.19. In two starts versus the Rays, he gave up just three total runs.
Manaea was activated off the Injured List on September 1st and made five starts in the final month of the season. He posted a 4-0 record with a 1.21 ERA and a WHIP of 0.78. Manaea has always been the heir apparent to the number starter’s role for Oakland.
Jon Morosi was a guest today on the Damon, Ratto, and Kolsky Show. Morosi — who is a reporter for the MLB Network and Fox Sports — said he feels that using Manaea as the starter on Wednesday is the perfect choice between the two pitchers.
Morton is the man for Tampa
Charlie Morton will take the hill for the Rays. He posted a record of 16-6 with 3.05 ERA for the season. After the Rays made “the opener” famous last year, Morton — a classic starter — became their star this season. Morton will use his curveball 37-percent of the time in the game on Wednesday night.
The A’s love the Coliseum
The Athletics record at home this season was 52-29 (.642). You would have to think that the A’s will feel more confident playing on their home field.
The A’s and Rays this season
The two teams played seven games this season. The A’s won four games and the Rays won three. Oakland won 2-of-3 in Tampa Bay and the teams split a four-game series in Oakland.
The A’s are the favorites on the money line -125. The projected run total is 7.5.
#1 The Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton stayed undefeated with a 6-2 win over the visiting Oakland A’s at Tropicana Field. Morton improved his record to a perfect 8-0, 2.10 ERA.
#2 The Rays improved their overall record in first place in the AL East, a half game up on the New York Yankees.
#3 The Rays also have won six of their last seven games and are the hottest team in baseball 41-24.
#4 The exhausted A’s didn’t get into Florida until 3 AM for the 7 PM game. The A’s, who played in Texas on Sunday, had their flight delayed and got out very late for the Tampa Bay touchdown. The team’s plane got damaged, which caused their flight even further. They played a doubleheader on Saturday before leaving Texas on Sunday and manager Bob Melvin said the team had five straight power naps.
#5 A’s starter Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.76 ERA) and the Rays will start Ryne Staneck (0-1 ERA 2.78) , the Rays are getting the best consistent pitching in baseball right now.
“Let’s play two” is the baseball quote made famous by the late, great Ernie Banks. The problem is for most baseball fans is they really have no idea what Banks was referring to when he made that famous statement.
Sure, most baseball fans have heard about day-night doubleheaders where one game is played in the afternoon then the stadium is cleared and the second game is played several hours later as a night game. Of course separate tickets are required for each game.
On Saturday, the Astros and Athletics scheduled a “twin bill” the old fashion way. The first game started at 1:05 p.m. and the second is scheduled to start approximately 45-minutes after game one is over. And, only one ticket is required to see both games.
The Athletics needed a strong pitching performance from their starter Daniel Gossett because the pitching staff would be taxed playing a minimum of 18 innings on Saturday. Gossett was trying to bounce back from a less than stellar start last Sunday in Seattle that lasted just 3.2-innings and resulted in Gossett recording his eighth loss of the season.
The problem for Gossett has been the way opponents hit off him after they see him one time through the order. The batting average against Gossett the first time through the order is just .211. The batting average against Gossett jumps to .356 after that first time look at his pitches.
Gossett struck out four Astro hitters and gave up no runs on two hits in the first two innings. In the top of the third, Gossett issued back-to-back walks and the A’s dugout began holding their breath. Gossett then retired Bregman, Altuve and Correa to get out of the inning.
Gossett was able to come out to start the top of the seventh inning but he walked the first batter and Bob Melvin came to the mound to take him out the game. Melvin no doubt had some words of praise for his starter as well. Gossett (4-8,5.02) pitched 6.0-innings giving up just one run (earned) off five hits. He struck out seven and walked just three. The 99-pitch effort by Gossett was most definitely a “quality start”.
The Athletics also exploded for 11 runs against the Astros. Houston starter Charlie Morton (11-7, 3.86) was expected to be a real problem for the A’s hitters on Saturday. Morton gave up a double to the Athletics leadoff batter Marcus Semien in the first inning and then proceeded to record three consecutive strikeouts. It looked like it might be a long day for the A’s.
The Athletics (61-80) broke through for three runs off Morton in the second inning and never looked back in the game. The A’s put three more runs up on the board in the sixth inning and then broke the bank with a five-run eighth inning that forced the Astros to use J.D. Davis — an infielder — to close out the game on the mound.
The powerful Astros (86-55) were not able to generate anything on offense. The scored only one run off their five hits.
On the hill
The A’s relievers did their job in game one holding up their starter Gossett by putting up the coveted “Goose Eggs” in their three innings of work.
Ryan Dull and Simon Castro not only allow zero (Goose Eggs) runs in three innings of relief but they allowed not no hits and just one base runner via a walk. That is the perfect scenario for a bullpen to preserve a win.
The Astros pitchers were their own worst enemies in game one of the doubleheader. As a staff they issued 13 base-on-balls and struck out 12.
Houston pitchers walked in five of the 11 runs they gave up to the Athletics in game. That will give managers and pitching coaches ulcers and nightmares.
The Astros gave up 11 runs on just 11 hits to Oakland
The “2 Matts” had another big game for the A’s. Matt Olson 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and two runs scored. Matt Chapman was 1-for-4 with two runs, one Rbi, one walk and one triple.
Boog Powell enjoyed his day with the bat going 2-for-4 posting two Rbi to go with three runs scored.
Khris Davis posted his 100th Rbi to become the first Athletic to have back-to-back 100-plus Rbi seasons since Miguel Tejada accomplished that feat in 2002-03.
A’s batters walked 13 times in the game and struck out 12 times — that is bat control.
Frankly there are not many highlights for Houston. They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Houston left six men on base.
The big blow for the ‘Stros was Alex Bregman’s double in the fifth inning that drove home the only run for Houston.
Astros catcher Juan Centeno started the game but had to leave the contest in second inning when he took a bat off the back of the head from a hard swing by Matt Joyce. He is being evaluated for a possible concussion.