Last year the Oakland Athletics skipped starting pitcher Mike Fiers who ranked 10th overall in earned run average (ERA). Instead electing to use reliever Liam Hendriks as an opener. This year Sean Manaea got the start after only making five starts, yet finished witn an era of 1.21 in 29.2 innings.
Another questionable decision was to start rookie catcher Sean Murphy instead of going with the veteran Josh Phegley.
With a crowd of 54,000 plus fans in the ballpark the Tampa Bay Rays quickly silenced the crowd with a solo home run by Yandy Diaz. Oakland did get their chance in the bottom of the first inning to at least get the run back, yet Matt Olson struck out swinging. After the bases were loaded, Jurickson Profar nearly got hit by a pitch before flying out to end the threat.
Matt Duffy opened the second with an infield single and Avisail Garcia then homered giving the Rays a 3-0 lead. Tampa chased Manaea as Diaz hit his second solo home run of the game. In came Yusmeiro Petit who manager Bob Melvin left in one batter too long as he gave up a solo shot to Tommy Pham. Jake Diekman recorded the final out, Jesus Luzardo pitched well and Hendriks finished off the ninth.
Oakland did make Charlie Morton work and Marcus Semien nearly made him pay by barely missing on a fastball. Still the only run the Athletics mustered came off an error and a sacrifice fly by Ramon Laureano.
With another exit in a wild card the loss puts Athletics manager Bob Melvin at 7-13 for his career in the postseason. In actuality he’s now 4-13 since his only series win in the playoffs. Which may lead to speculation about his job security as third base coach Matt Williams is a possible replacement along with Mark Kotsay who is the team’s quality control coach.