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AL Wild Card game open thread

There’s only one MLB game tonight, and it’s Rays-Athletics for the AL Wild Card. Do you have any strong feelings?

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers
Mike Fiers made a choice. This was the result.
Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike last night’s Brewers-Nationals contest, there’s not much geographic proximity for most Orioles fans to inspire interest, positive or negative, in tonight’s Rays-Athletics wild card game.

Perhaps you can summon up some anti-Rays sentiment on the basis of not wanting to see an AL East rival win, and that’s fair. Maybe you don’t like the Athletics because of that time Manny Machado had some drama with them. Either of these are reasonable stances to have, but if your first reaction is a deep ambivalence, that’s understandable as well. For the neutral fan, this game is one giant, “Who cares?”

It’s a strange feeling for a playoff game, especially one with winner-take-all stakes.

The A’s edged the Rays by one game in the win column this season, so tonight’s proceedings will be hosted in Oakland, where there’s a stadium that can compete with Tropicana Field for “worst stadium in MLB.” I give the Trop the advantage of being worse because of the catwalks. I mean, come on. But for tonight the only quirk is the cavernous foul territory.

Rays lineup

  1. Yandy Diaz - 1B
  2. Tommy Pham - DH
  3. Austin Meadows - LF
  4. Travis d’Arnaud - C
  5. Matt Duffy - 3B
  6. Avisail Garcia - RF
  7. Willy Adames - SS
  8. Kevin Kiermaier - CF
  9. Michael Brosseau - 2B

Charlie Morton is the Rays starting pitcher for the game. Possibly relevant is that he allowed just one run in 13.1 innings against the Athletics this season. On the other hand, it may not matter at all. Baseball can always get weird.

Athletics lineup

  1. Marcus Semien - SS
  2. Ramon Laureano - RF
  3. Matt Chapman - 3B
  4. Matt Olson - 1B
  5. Mark Canha - CF
  6. Jurickson Profar - 2B
  7. Khris Davis - DH
  8. Robbie Grossman - LF
  9. Sean Murphy - C

It’s going to be a Sean-Sean battery, as the A’s starting pitcher is Sean Manaea. Billy Beane has worked his magic again for regular season success. His famous proclamation that his shit does not work in the playoffs still stands. Perhaps the 30 year anniversary of the last Athletics championship will be when it finally does work out for Beane’s A’s in the postseason. Well, they’ll have to start by winning tonight to make that happen.

The game airs on ESPN, and there will even be a second, sabermetrics-oriented broadcast on ESPN2. First pitch is scheduled for 8:09 Eastern.