Favorites Edit

Rays beat Athletics to reach ALDS

19   //    03 Oct 2019, 09:16 IST
Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton

The Tampa Bay Rays will face the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series after trumping the Oakland Athletics 5-1.

Tampa Bay were too good for Oakland as they outclassed the Athletics in Wednesday's MLB wild-card clash.

Charlie Morton tossed five innings while allowing one unearned run, Yandy Diaz hit two homers and the Rays combined to hit four in total.

Here are three takeaways from the Rays' convincing win over the Athletics midweek:


Don't get it twisted, Morton is one of the most clutch pitchers in MLB

Yes, the Athletics missed some opportunities in the wild-card game and no, a lot of people do not know much about Morton, but over the last three years, he has turned into one of the most clutch pitchers in MLB and one of the best in general.

Morton did not have great control on Wednesday, but he fought through five innings and only allowed one run which was unearned after a three-base error on a Marcus Semien ground ball. The 35-year-old righty did enough to earn the win and has now come away with victories in three winner-take-all games in the playoffs since 2017.

He was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series in 2017 as well as Game 7 of the World Series. Since signing with the Astros in 2017, Morton has revitalised his career, going 45-16 and making back-to-back All-Star games. His first year with Tampa Bay has been a great one and he is showing no signs of slowing down with age.


Missed opportunities

The A's were one of the best-hitting MLB teams all year long. They were eighth in runs scored, 11th in on-base percentage, 10th in slugging and 10th in OPS. They finished fifth in home runs and also showed the ability to string hits together and beat teams if they could not hit the ball out of the park.

But Oakland became plagued by a problem late in the season and that problem reared its ugly head again in the wild-card game. While the A's were OK with runners in scoring position for the season (.252 batting average), they were abysmal down the stretch finishing the year on a two-for-46 slump.

They struggled again midweek, leaving the bases loaded in the first inning and runners on first and third in the fourth. What is worse though is they had at least a runner on base in every single inning of the game except the ninth and yet they could not score an earned run.

The A's could not figure out how to plate a runner at the end of the year and it cost them.

A historic skid

This is not funny anymore.

The A's cannot win a winner-take-all game to save their lives. With their loss to the Rays on Wednesday, Oakland have lost nine straight winner-take-all games. What makes it seem even worse though is when you hear the last time the A's won one.

That was in 1973. And again, to make matters worse, six of those nine games have been at home.