Preview: Rays’ playoff hopes likely hanging in balance as series vs. A’s continues

TV: FOX Sports Sun

TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 5:30 p.m.


The dream, the longshot dream of the Tampa Bay Rays, probably ended Friday night at the Trop.

The Rays came into the three-game series with the Oakland A’s needing what amounted to a miracle — starting with a sweep — to even make a legitimate run at a postseason berth. But that was all shattered when Khris Davis hit his major league-leading 42nd home run of the season in the 10th inning to give the A’s a 2-1 victory.

The win reduced Oakland’s magic number for clinching the second wild card to seven, and upped their lead over the Rays to nine games. It also kept the A’s a game and a half behind the Yankees for home-field in the wild-card game — and moved them to within 2 1/2 games of first-place Houston in the American League West.

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The Astros lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Houston on Friday night.

The A’s, winning the first game of the series between the league’s two major surprise teams, improved to a MLB-best 29-12 in one-run games with their second win in five games against the Rays this season.

“Khris gets to be the hero tonight,” said A’s starter Edwin Jackson. “That’s fun baseball we’re playing right now, every day it’s a different hero, a different person coming through in clutch situations.”

Saturday, both teams will start “openers” in bullpen games, Oakland’s Liam Hendriks going against Ryne Stanek — the game being billed as the first-ever matchup of “openers.”

Oakland manager Bob Melvin said either Frankie Montas or Chris Bassitt will follow Hendriks, with Yonny Chirinos following Stanek for the Rays.

The Rays come in 26-19 when using an “opener,” their ERA since manager Kevin Cash started using one at 3.22 — a league-best 3.48 in the first inning.

“It’s just trying to take advantage of what you have, and they’ve done a good job of that,” said Melvin. “If the first inning was a problem, you bring a reliever in who’s a little more used to pitching one inning and go from there.

“Other teams have guys coming to third base and they’re whining about how they hate the opener. In my mind, ‘Oh, that’s a bummer. We love it and you hate it.’ So, we’ll get a little extra perspective on that (tonight),” said Tampa Bay’s Matt Duffy.

The A’s announced Trevor Cahill, originally scheduled to start Saturday, received a trigger point injection in his upper back and will miss at least his next start. The hope had been for him to start twice on the next homestand — he has a 1.49 ERA at home and 7.02 on the road — but that won’t happen now.

Duffy returned to the Rays lineup after missing three games with a sore back.

“I don’t think the pain is completely out of there, but he wants to be in there,” Cash said.

The Rays came out with promotional handbills touting ace Blake Snell for the Cy Young Award — called, “Attack of the Cy Zilla!” It contains a quote from Boston manager Alex Cora saying Snell has “been great against everybody.” Snell’s nickname is “Snellzilla.”