The season is only a few weeks old, but it’s already clear that not much separates the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays. The teams continue their three-game series in Oakland on Saturday following another dramatic finish in the opener.
Friday’s matchup featured a tight pitchers’ duel between Tampa Bay’s Rich Hill and Oakland’s Sean Manaea, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
Both were on the bench in the ninth, when outfielder Seth Brown blasted a walk-off solo homer with two outs off Jeffrey Springs to give the Athletics a 2-1 victory.
Oakland recorded its fourth walk-off victory of the season and also snapped Tampa Bay’s five-game winning streak.
The Athletics lead the season series 3-2 after the teams split a four-game series in Tampa Bay on April 26-29. All five games this season have been decided by two runs or fewer.
Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow (4-1, 2.06 ERA) won his second straight start last Monday, when he allowed three runs on four hits with eight strikeouts over six innings in a 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
The 27-year-old right-hander brings a nine-game road winning streak into Saturday’s contest.
Mitch Moreland is 3-for-11 with a home run against Glasnow, who will be making his second career start against the Athletics. The native Californian last faced Oakland on April 28 at Tropicana Field, where he struck out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 win.
Oakland will turn to Frankie Montas (3-2, 5.87), who earned the victory against Toronto last Monday, when he allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings.
The 28-year-old right-hander is 0-1 with a 2.40 ERA in three career games (two starts) against Tampa Bay.
Austin Meadows is hitless with five strikeouts in seven at-bats against Montas, who gave up three runs over six frames in a 4-3 road loss to the Rays on April 27.
Tampa Bay catcher Francisco Mejia was scratched from the starting lineup Friday due to soreness in his left rib cage area, but manager Kevin Cash said he’s hopeful that Mejia can avoid the injured list.
“Kind of came out of nowhere,” Cash said. “I really don’t think it’s too big of an issue right now. I know they can be tricky. They can kind of creep up on you, and all of a sudden, they don’t bother you at all, and then you take a couple swings, and it really changes location in that area and aggravates the heck out of you. But we’re going to try to avoid that.”
Oakland shortstop Elvis Andrus snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a single on Friday, but the team’s offseason acquisition has struggled since Opening Day and is 8-for-71 at home this season.
Athletics hitting coach Darren Bush said he’s been encouraged by Andrus’ recent at-bats.
“His work has been good in the cage,” Bush said. “You have to continue on the process you are on. Though it hasn’t shown on the field in results, the last few at-bats he’s stayed through the ball. The at-bats are better at-bats, and that’s what we have to strive for.”
–Field Level Media