The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Cleveland Indians tonight, 4-0, to win the AL Wild Card Game and advance to play the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.
After 2 scoreless innings between Indians rookie Danny Salazar and Rays pitcher Alex Cobb, the Rays took the lead in the top of the 3rd on a Delmon Young solo HR that flew 400 feet to straightaway left field. The Rays added two more in the top of the 4th on a 2-RBI double by Desmond Jennings. They added the final run in the top of the 9th, when a Yunel Escobar RBI single gave closer Fernando Rodney an insurance run.
In addition to the offense, Alex Cobb pitched a gem, going 6 2/3 innings, without allowing a run, on 8 hits and 5 strikeouts. Salazar’s final line was 4 innings pitched, with 4 hits and 3 runs.
The Indians did threaten a couple of times, leaving the bases loaded in the 4th when Asdrubal Cabrera grounded into a double play. In the 5th, they had runners at 1st and 3rd with nobody out, before Cobb retired three straight to get out unscathed. In the 7th, Cleveland had 2 on with 1 out, but failed to score. They didn’t threaten the rest of the night, and Fernando Rodney retired them in order in the 9th.
The Rays haven’t played a home game since Monday, September 23, and still won’t go home tonight, traveling instead to Boston for Games 1 and 2 against the Red Sox. The trip started with a three-game against the Yankees in New York, before they traveled to Toronto. They lost 2 out of 3 to the Blue Jays, but won the game Sunday to tie the Texas Rangers for the second AL Wild Card Berth. That tie required a tiebreak game, Monday in Texas, which they won, 5-2. Tuesday was their first off day since September 9, as the result of makeup games for rainouts that were played where off days had originally scheduled. Tonight’s win in Cleveland only extended the trip, as I mentioned, as they now fly to Boston. The Rays can’t wait for Game 3 of the ALDS on Monday, when they will finally play in front of a home crowd.
The Division Series round of the MLB postseason is now completely set. As mentioned, the Rays will play the Red Sox. In the other American League series, the Detroit Tigers will play the Oakland Athletics. In the NL, the Wild Card winning Pittsburgh Pirates will play the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will play the Atlanta Braves.