On Friday night, the Indians fell to the Nationals (WAS 8, CLE 2), and around the same time the Rays topped the Blue Jays (TB 6, TOR 2). The Cleveland loss punched the Athletics' ticket to the postseason, and the Rays' win means they'll play Oakland in the AL Wild Card Game.
That AL Wild Card Game will be played on Wednesday, Oct. 2, with the winner advancing to the ALDS, likely to oppose the Astros. Where that Wild Card Game will be played is still uncertain. At this writing, the Rays trail the A's by just a half-game in the race to determine home-field advantage for that one-and-done affair. If both teams finish with the same record, then Oakland would host by virtue of their winning the season series over the Rays.
For the A's, it's their second straight trip to the Wild Card Game. They fell to the Yankees last season. The A's also played in the Wild Card Game in 2014, when they lost to the Royals. Oakland hasn't advanced beyond the LDS round in the postseason since 2006. Manager Bob Melvin has now led the A's to the playoffs five times.
The Rays return to the postseason for the first time since 2013, when they lost to the Red Sox in the ALDS. This will mark the fifth playoff appearance in franchise history, and the first under manager Kevin Cash. The Rays previously won the pennant in 2008 with Joe Maddon in the dugout. The Rays this year make the postseason despite ranking last in MLB in Opening Day payroll.
Speaking of that:
The Rays had the lowest Opening Day payroll in MLB.— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) September 28, 2019
Now, they're in the playoffs.
They're just the 2nd team since payroll has been tracked (31 seasons) to make the playoffs despite having the lowest Opening Day payroll.
The other? 2018 A's.
TB will face 2019 A's in AL WC gm
While the A's punched their ticket just before taking the field against the Mariners, the Rays had to take care of their own business in Toronto. Doing so occasioned an on-field celebration:
Rays-A's. It rhymes and everything.