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Wild Card Wednesday Has Arrived

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

The Coliseum will be packed with over 52,000 fans tonight as the A’s look to clinch an ALDS berth

It’s going to be a wild night at the Coliseum.

The Oakland Athletics have found themselves in the winner-take-all American League Wild Card game for the second consecutive season, a game that will take place tonight in a packed Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Athletics have opened up the upper-level and the rarely-used Mount Davis for the game as over 52,000 tickets have been sold, a new Wild Card attendance record.

Oakland will face the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, another small market team that currently owns the lowest payroll in baseball. Tampa just finished their second-best season in franchise history (96-66) and finished just one game behind the Athletics in the Wild Card race.

The Rays own the second-best road record in baseball (48-33), while the Athletics boast the fourth-best home record in the league (52-29).

After finishing 97-65 last season, the Oakland Athletics matched their 2018 win total this season. With starting pitching that holds the sixth-best ERA in the league and an offense that hit a franchise-record 257 home runs , the A’s secured a postseason berth for the second season in a row.

Aces Wild

Charlie Morton will toe the slab for the Rays on Wednesday night as he looks to claim his third postseason win of his career.

The 35 year-old Cy Young Award candidate just turned in his best year as a professional with a 16-6 record and 3.05 ERA. His 240 strikeouts were a career-high, and placed him ninth in the league among all pitchers. In two starts against the Athletics this year, Morton went 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work.

Going up against Morton will be Athletics left-hander Sean Manaea who will be making his first-career postseason start. Manaea went 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 30 strikeouts over five starts in his return from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him since August of 2018.

Tampa Bay has not faced the 27 year-old lefty since May of last season.

Who’s Hot?

After cementing himself as an MVP candidate, Marcus Semien finds himself in position to lead the Athletics to their first ALDS appearance since 2013. The 29 year-old short stop tallied career-highs across the board in 2019 with a .285 batting average, 33 home runs and 92 RBI. Semien led the league in games played (162) and plate appearances (747) as well during an unforgettable season.

Semien has a career .357 batting average against Charlie Morton over 14 plate appearances.

For Tampa Bay, All-Star outfielder Austin Meadows will look to give Sean Manaea fits on Wednesday night. The 24 year-old had a breakout year in 2019, hitting .291 with 33 home runs and 89 RBI over 138 games. Against left-handed pitchers, Meadows holds an above-average batting average as he hit .275 with 9 homers against southpaws during the regular season.

Meadows struggled against Athletics pitching in 2019, hitting .148 with no home runs and 10 strikeouts over 27 at-bats.

Probables

Wednesday, October 2 – Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA) vs Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21 ERA)5:09pm PST

Catch all of the action right here on Sports 1140 KHTK with pregame coverage starting at 4:30pm.