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Rays still battling for playoff seeding with Corey Kluber on the mound

Wander Franco is getting a day off; Tampa Bay is third in the wild-card field and seemingly headed to Cleveland.
The Rays turn to Corey Kluber for the start today against the Astros.
The Rays turn to Corey Kluber for the start today against the Astros. [ RON SCHWANE | AP ]
Published Oct. 2|Updated Oct. 2

HOUSTON — The Rays will have Corey Kluber on the mound today as they keep trying to win their way home for the best-of-three, one-site Wild Card Series that starts Friday.

Entering play today, they are three games behind the Blue Jays, who lead the three-team American League wild-card field, and as of now would get to host one of the series. The Rays will need help to catch the Jays, and a loss today to Houston (coupled with a Toronto win) would end the chase and send Tampa Bay on the road. (The Rays do hold the tiebreaker over the Jays.)

Where they would go is yet to be settled, as they are 1-1/2 games behind the second-place Mariners. Under the new format, the second-place wild-card team plays at the first; the third wild card plays at the lowest-seeded division champ, which would be Cleveland.

Kluber is making his team-high 31st start and earned $5 million in bonuses on top of his $8 million salary for getting to 30. The Astros, who have clinched the West division title and top seed, are starting Luis Garcia.

Shortstop Wander Franco is not in the lineup one day after serving as the designated hitter. Manager Kevin Cash said it was just a rest day to freshen his legs.

Yandy Diaz, who has been bothered for weeks by a sore left shoulder, also is not starting and may only play once more during the final regular-season series in Boston, with the goal of being ready for the playoff series.

Here is the Rays’ lineup:

And for the Astros:

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