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Post-season Gameday Thread, #2: AL Wild-card

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The playoff underperformers versus our expansion siblings!

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San Francisco Giants v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

RAYS ATHLETICS
Yandy Diaz - 1B Marcus Semien - SS
Tommy Pham - DH Ramon Laureano - RF
Austin Meadows - LF Matt Chapman - 3B
Travis d'Arnaud - C Matt Olson - 1B
Matt Duffy - 3B Mark Canha - CF
Avisail Garcia - RF Jurickson Profar - 2B
Willy Adames - SS Khris Davis - DH
Kevin Kiermaier - CF Robbie Grossman - LF
Mike Brosseau - 2B Sean Murphy - C

Oakland GM Billy Beane once famously said, “My shit doesn’t work in the playoffs,” and he’s not wrong. You think the Nationals have a bad post-season record? The Athletics haven’t won a playoff series since 2006. After winning the division in 2012 and 2013, they were knocked out in the Division series, and their wild-card places in 2014 and 2018 both proved one and done. Since their last World Series win in 1990, the Athletics have reached the post-season ten times. Nine of those have seen them stopped at the first hurdle; the exception was that 2006, where they swept the Twins in the ALDS... then were swept by the Tigers. That psychological baggage needs to be unpacked if they’re to progress tonight.

On the other side, we find the Rays, who were dead-last in the majors for salaries on Opening Day. We’re talking $17 million LESS than the 29th-placed Marlins, themselves hardly a free-spending franchise. Yet Tampa still managed to finish twelve games in front of the Boston Red Sox, who had close to four times the Rays payroll. They’re prove positive that it is possible to compete if you don’t have enormous resources, even if they did finish seven games back of the equally well-financed Yankees. Worth pointing out though, that their 96 wins would have been good enough to win the NL Central by five games, yet only got them a road-trip and a potential one-and-done.

In terms of late drama, this will have quite some way to go to match last night’s opener. But if the excitement can show up before the bottom of the eighth inning, that would be appreciated...