Tampa Bay Rays

Yandy Diaz hits first homers in two months to put Rays up early

Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz, who’s played one game since late July, homers in first two at-bats in Wednesday’s AL Wild Card game in Oakland

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz didn’t wait long to make his mark on the 2019 MLB postseason.

Diaz hit two home runs off Athletics starter Sean Manaea in his first two at-bats of Wednesday’s AL Wild Card game as the Rays currently lead Oakland 4-1 at RingCentral Coliseum.

With afternoon shadows covering the field in Oakland, Diaz led off the game with a solo home run that just cleared the fence in right-field on Manaea’s fifth pitch of the game. He wasn’t through, adding another home run to the opposite field in nearly the same spot to lead off the top of the third, giving Tampa Bay an early 4-0 lead and knocking Manaea out of the game. It was only the second time in his career Manaea has given up two home runs to the same player, and the first since Chris Carter of the Brewers did it in 2016.

Diaz’s spot on the Rays postseason roster wasn’t even certain. He went on the IL on July 23 after fouling a ball off his foot and wasn’t activated until Sunday. The only game he’s played in the past two months was the season finale on Sunday in Toronto. He hadn’t hit a home run since July 18 against the Yankees in New York and hadn’t recorded a hit since July 22.

Before going on the IL, Diaz hit 14 home runs and drove in 38 in 79 games for the Rays this season. He had one prior multi-homer game, on May 11 against the Yankees. He’s the fifth Rays player to hit two home runs in a playoff game, and first since Desmond Jennings in Game 3 of the 2011 ALDS against Texas. He’s also the first lead-off hitter in history with home runs in each of his first two at-bats in a postseason.

The 28-year-old Diaz is in his first season with the Rays after spending the first two years of his career with Cleveland. He had made one playoff appearance before tonight, going 1-3 in the ALDS with the Indians last year against Houston.

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