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Rays, Athletics clinch AL Wild Card spots


TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 27: Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate clinching a wild card playoff spot after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on September 27, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

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The Rays and Athletics are positioned to face off during the AL Wild Card game next month, thanks to two last-minute playoff clinches on Friday night. With the Rays’ 6-5 win over the Blue Jays and the Nationals’ 8-2 win over the Indians, Cleveland has also been eliminated from any potential postseason play.

It’s a significant advancement for the Rays, who will head to the postseason for the first time since 2013. It’s a significant advancement for the Rays, who will head to the postseason for the first time since 2013. They leaned on Tyler Glasnow to guide them through the first 4 1/3 innings of Friday’s series opener, which he did while holding the Blue Jays hitless and issuing just two walks and four strikeouts. Backed by a couple of home runs from Tommy Pham and Austin Meadows and a pair of RBI singles from Willy Adames and Avisail Garcia, the bullpen finished off the win with five strong innings, including a two-inning effort from Oliver Drake.

Should the Rays advance past the Wild Card Game, they’ll be in line to compete for their second-ever Division Series title -- something that eluded them during their last three campaigns in 2013, 2011, and 2010. They haven’t made it further than the Division Series since 2008, when their first (and only) trip to the World Series ended with a 4-1 series loss to the Phillies.

The Athletics, meanwhile, are ready to complicate the Rays’ path to postseason victory after wrapping their own Wild Card spot with the Indians’ loss to the Nationals on Friday. While it’s anyone’s game to win -- despite the relative strengths and weaknesses of both clubs, anything can happen during a one-game playoff -- the A’s have much more experience in the postseason, albeit a pretty poor Wild Card Game record. They’ve lost their last two Wild Card face-offs in 2018 and 2014, but will be embarking on their 28th postseason run overall, with a 10th World Series title in their sights.