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Rays, Athletics lineups for AL Wild Card game

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The American League side of the playoff bracket will begin with the AL Wild Card game tonight at 8 PM ET on ESPN, featuring the Rays and Athletics in Oakland. The Rays went 96-66 during the regular season, finishing a distant seven games behind the Yankees. The A’s went 97-65, finishing an even more distant 10 games behind the Astros.

Here are your starting lineups.


1B Yandy Díaz – .267/.340/.476, 14 HR, 38 RBI (347 PA)
DH Tommy Pham – .273/.369/.450, 21 HR, 68 RBI (654 PA)
LF Austin Meadows – .291/.364/.558, 33 HR, 89 RBI (591 PA)
C Travis d'Arnaud – .263/.323/.459, 16 HR, 67 RBI (365 PA)
3B Matt Duffy – .252/.343/.327, 1 HR, 12 RBI (169 PA)
RF Avisaíl García – .282/.332/.464, 20 HR, 72 RBI (530 PA)
SS Willy Adames – .254/.317/.418, 20 HR, 52 RBI (584 PA)
CF Kevin Kiermaier – .228/.278/.398, 14 HR, 55 RBI (480 PA)
2B Michael Brosseau – .273/.319/.462, 6 HR, 16 RBI (142 PA)

SP Charlie Morton – 16-6, 3.05 ERA< 240 K, 57 BB (194 2/3 IP)

The Rays are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Hard to believe it’s been that long, but the club had strung together five consecutive seasons of finishing in third place or worse.

Morton had a career year and is a solid No. 3 in the AL Cy Young Award race behind the Astros’ Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. The Rays received a lot of press for popularizing “the opener” plus reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell had a down year, so Morton stepped up as the de facto ace of the staff.


SS Marcus Semien – .285/.369/.522, 33 HR, 92 RBI (747 PA)
RF Ramón Laureano – .288/.340/.521, 24 HR, 67 RBI (481 PA)
3B Matt Chapman – .249/.342/.506, 36 HR, 91 RBI (670 PA)
1B Matt Olson – .267/.351/.545, 36 HR, 91 RBI (547 PA)
CF Mark Canha – .273/.396/.517, 26 HR, 58 RBI (497 PA)
2B Jurickson Profar – .218/.301/.410, 20 HR, 67 RBI (518 PA)
DH Khris Davis – .220/.293/.387, 23 HR, 73 RBI (533 PA)
LF Robbie Grossman – .240/.334/.348, 6 HR, 38 RBI (482 PA)
C Sean Murphy – .245/.333/.566, 4 HR, 8 RBI (60 PA)

SP Sean Manaea – 4-0, 1.21 ERA, 30 K, 7 BB (29 2/3 IP)

The A’s are appearing in the AL Wild Card game for a second consecutive year. They lost last year to the Yankees, 7-2. Should they win tonight, the A’s will advance into the ALDS for the first time since 2013.

Manaea underwent shoulder surgery in September 2018 and didn’t return until rosters expanded last month. In five September starts, Manaea dazzled with a 1.21 ERA and a 30/7 K/BB ratio across 29 2/3 innings. Although it is a small sample size, the performance isn’t hard to buy into as Manaea has shown that kind of potential before, particularly when he no-hit the eventual world champion Red Sox on April 21, 2018.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3


HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”