This! (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

The days of restless anticipation are over, as the Tampa Bay Rays finally punched their postseason ticket — their fourth consecutive playoff berth — after they defeated the Astros on Friday, 7-3.

At 86-71, the Rays enter play 15 games above .500 with five left to play. The goal now is to improve where they are seeded so they don’t have to face the Guardians on Friday, in Cleveland.

Drew Rasmussen allowed two earned runs on five hits (including a solo homer to Alex Bregman) and no walks while striking out three over seven innings on Friday in Houston. Rasmussen continued his fantastic campaign with a win over the best team in the American League to clinch the Rays a postseason birth. Rasmussen was incredibly efficient, throwing just 73 pitches (52 strikes, 71% strike rate). The right-hander has shown excellent control this season, walking only 31 batters in 146 innings. He is tentatively slated to make one last regular season tuneup in Boston on Wednesday. Overall, Rasmussen owns a 2.84 ERA and a 3.25 FIP, with a 4.03 K/BB, and a 1.04 FIP on the season.

Yandy Díaz returned to the lineup and was a major factor in the contest, going 3-for-4 with two RBI.

He walked in the first inning, then found himself on third with two outs when Harold Ramírez singled him home to open the scoring.

In the fifth inning, Díaz hit a one-out single off Framber Valdez, then came around to score on Randy Arozarena’s triple to center. Wander Franco drove Arozarena home with a single to put the Rays up by one.

The Rays broke things open in the sixth inning. Francisco Mejía led off the frame with a base hit before Isaac Paredes worked a full-count walk. José Siri, in the midst of his revenge tour against his former team, doubled in Mejía to make it 4-2.

After a fielder’s choice at home, Díaz lashed a two-run double to put Tampa Bay up by four.

Taylor Walls capped the scoring for the Rays in the eighth inning, crushing a solo blast to deep right field, and putting them up by five.

Even though Colin Poche gave back a run on an RBI double in the ninth, that is as close as Houston would get.

The New What Next

Shane McClanahan (12-7, 2.51 ERA) will get the start for Tampa Bay in the second game of the set, pitching opposite Cristian Javier (10-9, 2.65 ERA).

Shane McClanahan allowed four uncharacteristic runs on six hits and two walks over five innings on Sunday against Toronto. He struck out just striking out two batters. McClanahan was taken deep three times, including twice by George Springer. The southpaw had allowed just two home runs over his previous 38.2 innings of work. After producing two straight scoreless starts, McClanahan has been tagged with nine runs over his last two turns, raising his season ERA to 2.51 through 27 starts. Even so, he maintains a 3.01 FIP (2.53 xFIP), a 5.19 K/BB, and a 1.19 WHIP across 161.1 innings on the season. McClanahan gave up five runs on five hits (including a homer) across four innings in his previous start against Houston.

Cristian Javier allowed one hit over six scoreless innings against Baltimore on Sunday. He struck out eight. Javier retired the first 13 batters he faced and gave up just one single in the dominant outing. Javier has now turned in three consecutive scoreless outings — producing a 5.5 K/BB through 17 innings while lowering his season ERA to 2.65 (3.53 xFIP) during that stretch. He held the Rays scoreless over five innings in his previous start against Tampa Bay, surrendering one lone run. Key Matchups: Christian Bethancourt (1-2), David Peralta (2-7, 2B)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 10/1/22 Starting Lineup

  1. Peralta LF
  2. Arozarena RF
  3. Franco DH
  4. Choi 1B
  5. Aranda 3B
  6. Walls SS
  7. Mastrobuoni 2B
  8. Mejía C
  9. Siri CF