Rays blank Cleveland in AL wild-card game
The Tampa Bay Rays’ road show rolls on. Next stop: Boston.
The Associated Press
CLEVELAND — The Tampa Bay Rays’ road show rolls on. Next stop: Boston.
Alex Cobb dodged trouble for nearly seven innings and the Rays pitched their way to another must-have win on the road, beating the Cleveland Indians 4-0 Wednesday night in the AL wild-card game.
Cobb, who missed a chunk of the regular season after he was hit in the head by a line drive, quieted a thundering Cleveland crowd and ended the Indians’ unexpected season.
“Nobody wants to go home,” Cobb said.
Delmon Young homered in the third inning off rookie Danny Salazar as the Rays, playing in their third city over four days, advanced to face the AL East champion Red Sox in the division series starting Friday.
“I felt like we’ve done it and been here before,” said Desmond Jennings, who hit a two-run double. “The road we took to get here was pretty tough going to New York, Toronto, playing a game in Texas.”
Cobb’s comeback in August from his frightening injury helped stabilize the Rays, who have spent the past two weeks winning crucial games to reach the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
Cobb pitched out of massive jams in the fourth and fifth, and allowed two runners to reach in the seventh before turning it over to Tampa Bay’s dependable bullpen.
Joel Peralta struck out Nick Swisher on three pitches, ending Cleveland’s last real chance.
Fernando Rodney worked a perfect ninth, striking out Lonnie Chisenhall to end it. Rodney dropped to one knee, pointed skyward and soon was mobbed by all the Rays, who may be a little homesick but are Boston-bound.
“Go out and play our game,” Jennings said. “It’s going to be tough any time you play Boston.”
Unfazed by a raucous crowd of 43,579 that roared like a jet engine inside Progressive Field, the Rays handled the Indians and will now face their division nemesis, the Red Sox, who went 12-7 against Tampa Bay this season.
David Price set the tone for the Rays’ postseason run by throwing a complete game to beat Texas in the wild-card tiebreaker Monday night, and Cobb picked up where his teammate left off. After he was pulled in the seventh, Cobb walked to the dugout where he was first greeted by Price.
“The adrenaline was going pretty fast there in the early going,” Cobb said. “Once Delmon hit that home run, I tried to fill up the strike zone. My stuff wasn’t the best, but I made my defense work. They were awesome.”
Since Sunday, the Rays have won in Toronto, Texas and now Cleveland. Their next destination — Fenway Park — won’t be any more welcoming.
“It’s been a blur. I don’t know if that’s because of the concussion or it’s just been up and down all year,” Cobb said.
The Indians went from 94 losses a year ago to 92 wins under first-year manager Terry Francona and won their last 10 games to make the postseason for the first time since 2007.
But it was one and done for Cleveland, which didn’t capitalize on scoring opportunities. The first three hitters, Michael Bourn, Swisher and Jason Kipnis, went a combined 0 for 12.
“It hurts. We didn’t want to go home yet,” Francona said.