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Rays have a date with Houston, beat A’s in wild card

It’ll be a return to the ALDS for the Rays who defeat the Athletics in Oakland, 5-1, in the AL Wild Card.

The Rays haven’t played a post-season game since 2013. Only Kevin Kiermaier remained from that last playoff bound team. The only game he saw action in that season was the very same game he was suiting up for tonight in Oakland.

The American League Wild Card game.

Tampa Bay wasted no time at all making themselves at home on the west coast.

Avi and Yandy bring the boom

In what would be the first of two bombs from Yandy Diaz, the returning first baseman crushed a lead-off home run to the opposite field to put the Rays up early 1-0 off Oakland starter Sean Manaea. Diaz had played in just one regular season game since July nursing a foot injury.

Avisail Garcia would connect on a two-run bomb in the second inning to give starter Charlie Morton an even bigger lead, 3-0.

The Athletics had left the bases loaded off Morton in the bottom of the first.

Yandy goes “oppo” again

You weren’t seeing a replay. Diaz hit his second home run to almost the exact same place in the third, extending the Rays lead 4-0 off Manaea.

Kiermaier was asked about the returning Diaz before the game.

“Yandy is just one of those guys, he just wakes up out of bed and rakes.”

“Rakes” might have been putting it mildly.

Pham joins the derby

In what was becoming a home run derby of sorts for the Rays, Tommy Pham teed off with two outs in the fifth for a solo shot to make it 5-1. Reliever Yusmeiro Petit had been cruising since taking over for Manaea in the third. It was already the fourth home run hit by the Rays.

Morton wasn’t great…but he did his job

On a night when the Rays ace didn’t have his best stuff in the biggest game of the season, the offense picked him up. Morton got through five innings putting runners on in every one of them. Including leaving the bases loaded in the first. A couple double plays and some key strikeouts helped his cause.

The ‘pen holds it down

Kevin Cash called on Diego Castillo to hold onto a four-run lead for two innings of shutout ball. Castillo threw 33 pitches and notched a couple of strikeouts in relief of Morton.

Nick Anderson and Emilio Pagan worked a perfect ninth inning to send the Rays to the American League Division Series. They’ll face the Houston Astros in Houston beginning Friday.

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