Yandy Diaz finished 3-for-4 with a walk and delivered a game-breaking two-run double in the sixth inning that carried the visiting Tampa Bay Rays to a 7-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday and a club-record fourth consecutive postseason berth.
Diaz capped the Rays' three-run sixth with his double to center field off Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (16-6), driving home Jose Siri and Taylor Walls for a 6-2 lead. Siri had previously extended the lead to 4-2 with his double to center that scored Francisco Mejia.
Diaz walked and scored on a two-out, two-strike Harold Ramirez single in the first and scored the tying run in the fifth when he singled and scored after Randy Arozarena tripled to center. It marked his first start since Sept. 19; Diaz had been slowed by left shoulder soreness.
Tampa Bay (86-71) secured the second of three wild-card bids in the American League. Despite the loss, the Astros (102-55) clinched home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs when the New York Yankees fell to the Baltimore Orioles 2-1.
Valdez followed his record string of 25 consecutive quality starts with a second straight poor outing. He induced a double play off the bat of Rays shortstop Wander Franco to help limit the damage to a single run in the first inning and worked around singles from Diaz in the third and Ramirez in the fourth before surrendering the lead when Arozarena tripled in the fifth.
Franco plated Arozarena with a single as the Rays grabbed a 3-2 lead. Valdez opened the sixth by surrendering another leadoff single, this one to Mejia, before issuing a walk to Isaac Paredes and the run-scoring double to Siri. He departed when Diaz reached for a fourth consecutive plate appearance having allowed six runs on nine hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings.
Over his last two starts, Valdez has surrendered 13 runs (10 earned) on 20 hits and four walks over 10 2/3 innings.
Rays right-hander Drew Rasmussen (11-7) snapped a personal three-game skid by allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts over seven innings. He needed only 73 pitches to dispatch the Astros, who got a solo home run from Alex Bregman -- his 23rd -- in the first and a dubiously scored single from Yuli Gurriel that scored Yordan Alvarez for a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
--Field Level Media