Rays clinch American League’s best record vs. Astros, secure home-field advantage throughout first two rounds

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Rays clinch American League's best record vs. Astros, secure home-field advantage throughout first two rounds

USATSI

The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Houston Astros by a 7-0 final (box score) on Wednesday night, thereby setting a franchise record with their 98th win and securing both the best record in the American League and home-field advantage throughout the first two rounds of the postseason.

The Rays received big nights from first baseman Ji-Man Choi and second baseman Brandon Lowe. The duo combined to record three hits, including a home run, and a walk. They also drove in a total of five runs. 

On the mound, the Rays saw Drew Rasmussen toss five shutout innings. He surrendered a hit and no walks while striking out two batters on 54 pitches. Tampa Bay originally acquired Rasmussen as part of the Willy Adames trade.

With the victory, the Rays now have a 98-60 record on the season. They can finish no worse than 98-64 record. The only teams who could potentially finish with fewer losses are all in the National League: the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are assured superior records, while the Milwaukee Brewers have a slim chance of doing the same. (The Brewers are now 95-63 on the year.)

The Rays will play whomever wins the AL’s Wild Card Game. That race remains up in the air as of Wednesday night. The New York Yankees are still in the catbird seat despite a loss against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Baltimore Orioles, are assured of entering Thursday with the second spot secured — regardless of what happens between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners.

It’s worth noting that the Astros would have clinched the AL West with a win. Houston can still secure the division on Wednesday night, but it will require the Athletics defeating the Mariners. Otherwise, the Astros will lock up the division with either their next victory or with Seattle’s next defeat.