Challenge For Rays And A’s – Equal The Tautness And Drama Of Nationals’ Win Over Milwaukee

A lot of pressure on the next National League Division Series game The very nature of a one-and-done playoff “series” builds in drama. One team advances, one goes home....

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A lot of pressure on the next National League Division Series game

The very nature of a one-and-done playoff “series” builds in drama. One team advances, one goes home.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s (Wednesday, 8:09 p.m. ET, ESPN) now face an extra obligation – blend in the twists and turns of the Washington Nationals’ 4-3 victory on Tuesday night over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Nationals move on to play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series and the Brewers move on to play golf.

The pitching matchup in Oakland in the American League wild-card game is strong, with Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA) on the mound for the Rays, Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21) for the A’s. And these are two teams with limited resources, limited fan support and awful stadiums that continue to enjoy success in a big-dollar game.

The Nationals plagued all season by a terrible bullpen, had a plan to counter that against the Brewers. They started Max Scherzer and then went to Stephen Strasburg. The problem: Scherzer gave up home runs in the first and second innings and the Nationals trailed 3-1 when Strasburg entered.

He did not allow a run, Daniel Hudson finished and the Nats scored three times in the eighth inning to pull off the comeback. Juan Soto singled to right with the bases loaded and a misplayed ball in the outfield allowed all the runners to score. And so the Nationals, playoff heartbreakers so many times, moved on.

“We were one of those teams that fell short. We played a bunch of Game 5s and elimination games, and to finally breakthrough, with this group of guys, is special,” Nats general manager Mike Rizzo said during a dressing room celebration.

Top that, Rays. Top that, A’s.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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