Yandy Diaz crushed two home runs and led the Tampa Bay Rays (96-66) to a 5-1 victory over the Oakland A’s (97-65) in the 2019 AL wild-card game. The Rays won the single-game elimination round in Oakland and advanced to the ALDS against the top-seeded Houston Astros.

Tampa Bay Rays Yandy Diaz AL Wild Card
Tampa Bay Rays Yandy Diaz connects on a home run in the AL wild-card game against the A’s in Oakland. (Image: Dirk Shadd/Tampa Times)

Diaz didn’t skip a beat after coming off the 60-day IL with a fractured foot. He injured his foot shortly after the All-Star break, and missed the second half of the season. The team activated him for the AL wild-card.

Diaz went 3-for-4 and hit two solo home runs off A’s starter Sean Manaea, including shots in the first and third innings. Diaz’s second blast put the Rays up 4-0.

“I don’t know if we expected that kind of performance,” said Tampa Rays manager Kevin Cash. “He made us look a lot smarter than we are.”

Rays starter Charlie Morton allowed just one run over five innings. The Tampa Bullpen shut the door on the A’s with four scoreless innings. The A’s scored their lone run on a sac fly from Ramon Laureano. No home runs for the big-hitting A’s squad in the AL wild card.

“They kind of beat us with our game,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin.

Low Budget Rays

Tampa will send Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) to the mound in Game 1 for the ALDS. Blake Snell (6-8, 4.29 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) gets the ball for Game 2. He had only three starts this season after getting off the IL while recovering from bone chips in his elbow.

The Astros get all the love for best rotation in baseball. The stat nerds will remind you that the Rays have the best pitching in baseball, and led the AL with a 3.65 ERA.

The Rays might finally sell out a home game. They only sold out three this season, including Opening Day. The Rays boast one of the worst attendance figures in the league, but the bandwagon fans will come out of the woodwork for the postseason. The Rays return to the Trop in Game 3, and Charlie Morton will take the mound.

This season, Tampa had an equal home/away record with a 48-33 clip.

On Deck: Houston Aces

The Houston Astros, with the best record in baseball this year, are coming into the postseason as the team to beat. According to William Hill, the Astros are 2/1 odds to win the 2019 World Series.

2019 ALDS: Tampa Bay at Houston
Game 1: Tyler Glasnow (6-1) vs. Justin Verlander (21-6)
Game 2: Blake Snell (6-8) vs. Gerrit Cole (20-5)
Game 3: Zack Greinke (18-5) vs. Charlie Morton (16-6)

The Astros host the first two ALDS games in Houston. Justin Verlander, on pace to win another Cy Young, recently notched his 3,000th strikeout and 300th whiff of the season.

In Game 1 with Verlander on the mound, the Astros are +190 on the money line. The Rays are coming into Game 1 the ALDS as -210 on the money line.

Mattress Mack, a beloved furniture owner from Houston, Texas, bet $3.5 million on the Astros to win the World Series. He’s getting +220 on his wager, and will win $7.7 million if the Astros go all the way.

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