Final, Rays 4-0: The Rays have earned the right to play the Red Sox in the ALDS.
The Rays, who defeated the Rangers in a one-game tiebreaker in Texas on Monday, took down the Indians in Cleveland on Wednesday. They’ll now travel to Boston, where the ALDS will kick off Friday.
The Red Sox had the American League’s best record during the regular season, but they’ll certainly have their hands full in the ALDS. The Rays have played the Red Sox tough in previous years, and Tampa Bay’s pitching looks very dangerous.
Delmon Young put Tampa on the scoreboard Wednesday with a solo homer in the third inning. Desmond Jennings then made it 3-0 in the fourth inning with a two-run double. That was more than enough, as the Indians, who actually outhit the Rays 9-8, spoiled multiple scoring chances throughout the contest.
Alex Cobb tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings while earning the win. He gave up eight hits, struck out five and walked one while throwing 107 pitches (64 strikes). Danny Salazar suffered the loss.
The Rays and Red Sox will play Friday and Saturday in Boston. The series will then shift to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary). It should be an interesting series.
Good night, everyone.
Mid 9th, Rays 4-0: The Rays tacked on another run amid some sloppy defense by the Indians.
Cody Allen started the ninth inning and faced two batters. Ben Zobrist singled into right field, and Sam Fuld struck out swinging.
Terry Francona then turned to Joe Smith, who didn’t receive much help from his defense.
Delmon Young hit a sharp grounder to third base that ate up Lonnie Chisenhall. The ball traveled into left field, allowing Zobrist to take third base with one out.
Yunel Escobar followed with a line drive to first base. Nick Swisher couldn’t make a play on it, and the ball wound up in right field as Zobrist trotted home. Escobar was given a hit — as it was a tough play — but Swisher would certainly like to have another crack at it.
Smith retired the next two batters, which means it’ll be a four-run deficit for the Indians. Asdrubal Cabrera, Yan Gomes and Chisenhall are scheduled to take their cuts against Rays closer Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the ninth.
End 8th, Rays 3-0: The Indians are down to their final three outs.
Joel Peralta came back out for the eighth inning. He recorded two outs while yielding a hit.
Carlos Santana singled into left field with one out, and Michael Brantley flied out to David DeJesus in foul territory along the left field line for the second out. Joe Maddon then made a pitching change.
Hard-throwing lefty Jake McGee took over for Peralta. He struck out Ryan Raburn looking to finish the eighth inning.
Mid 8th, Rays 3-0: Justin Masterson ran into some trouble in the eighth. A double play and a diving grab helped him escape the inning unharmed.
Masterson plunked David DeJesus to begin the eighth inning, and Wil Myers made it first and second with an infield single. Myers hit a slow grounder to third base, and just beat out Lonnie Chisenhall’s throw.
James Loney went right back at Chisenhall with a grounder that had a lot of English on it. The third baseman grabbed it and tossed to second, where Jason Kipnis successfully turned the double play. Nick Swisher also deserves credit for a nice stretch at first base.
DeJesus took third base on the twin killing, but Chisenhall made a fantastic play to make sure he didn’t score. Evan Longoria hit a rocket to third base, and Chisenhall laid out to make the grab before the ball hit the ground.
End 7th, Rays 3-0: Two more hits, but still nothing to show for it.
The Indians put two runners on against Alex Cobb in the seventh inning. Joe Maddon turned to Joel Peralta with two outs, and the right-hander capped the escape with a strikeout.
Yan Gomes and Lonnie Chisenhall struck back-to-back singles with one out in the seventh. Cobb then retired Michael Bourn on a flyout to left-center field, at which point Maddon made the pitching change.
Nick Swisher never stood a chance against Peralta. Peralta set up Swisher with a couple of offspeed offerings before blowing a fastball by him.
The Indians have had at least two runners on in three of the last four innings. None have scored.
Mid 7th, Rays 3-0: Desmond Jennings singled to lead off the seventh inning, and Terry Francona turned to Justin Masterson. The big righty came through, and got the Cleveland crowd back into it.
Masterson struck out Delmon Young for the first out. Young went down on three pitches. The final strike was a nasty slider that Young stood no chance against.
Yunel Escobar grounded back to the mound for the second out. Sam Fuld, who pinch ran for the hobbled Jennings, moved up to second base on the play.
Masterson ended the inning by striking out Jose Molina swinging. The tall right-hander looked nasty in relief.
End 6th, Rays 3-0: David Price went the distance in Monday’s tiebreaker game in Texas. Alex Cobb is stepping up in this game in Cleveland.
Cobb needed to escape jams in the fourth and fifth innings, but he successfully walked the tightrope. The sixth inning was much easier for the right-hander.
Cobb picked up two strikeouts while tossing a 1-2-3 sixth. Carlos Santana was rung up by third base umpire Greg Gibson on a checked swing, and Ryan Raburn foul-tipped a fastball into the mitt.
Mid 6th, Rays 3-0: Bryan Shaw made quick work of the Rays in the sixth inning.
James Loney, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist went down in order.
Loney flied out, Longoria struck out and Zobrist lined out to Nick Swisher at first base.
End 5th, Rays 3-0: The Indians squandered another excellent scoring chance in the fifth inning.
The Indians, who failed to score despite loading the bases in the fourth inning, couldn’t muster up a run in the fifth inning despite having runners at the corners with no outs.
Yan Gomes led off with a double. Alex Cobb actually made a pretty good pitch down in the zone, but Gomes golfed it off the left field wall.
Lonnie Chisenhall then singled through the right side, and at that point, it looked like the Indians were going to finally get on the scoreboard.
Alex Cobb took the first step toward escaping the jam by striking out Michael Bourn. Nick Swisher then grounded to first base, where James Loney stepped on the bag for the second out.
Loney decided to throw home after stepping on the bag — rather than to second base — as Gomes headed toward the plate. Gomes would have been held up in a rundown, but no one covered third base, so the Indians ended up with runners at second and third with two outs.
Cobb finished the escape by getting Jason Kipnis on a grounder back to the mound.
Mid 5th, Rays 3-0: Terry Francona used three pitchers to get through the fifth inning.
Danny Salazar started the inning and walked Jose Molina on eight pitchers after jumping ahead in the count, 0-2. Francona wasted no time giving his starter the hook.
Mark Rzepczynski took over for Salazar and struck out David DeJesus. DeJesus came up empty on a 3-2 slider.
Francona then turned to right-hander Bryan Shaw. Shaw struck out Wil Myers, and the inning ended when Molina was gunned down at second base after taking off with James Loney at the plate.
End 4th, Rays 3-0: The Indians just let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers.
Cleveland loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning, but Alex Cobb managed to induce a huge double play — which he was even a part of defensively — to end the threat.
The threat started when Carlos Santana hammered a one-out double into the right field corner. Cobb caught a big chunk of the plate with a 2-1 fastball, and Santana made him pay.
Michael Brantley nearly gave the Indians their first run with a ground ball back up the middle, but Ben Zobrist made a fantastic diving stop. Zobrist’s throw to first base wasn’t in time, but the play kept Santana at third base.
Cobb walked Ryan Rayburn, which loaded the bases for Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera hit a chopper to first base, where James Loney started a big, inning-ending, 3-6-1 double play.
Cobb pumped his fist and returned to a fired-up Rays dugout.
Mid 4th, Rays 3-0: The Rays are in control right now.
James Loney and Evan Longoria struck back-to-back singles with one out in the fourth inning. Danny Salazar then rebounded to take care of Ben Zobrist, but Desmond Jennings delivered a huge two-out hit.
Jennings ripped a ground ball past a diving Lonnie Chisenhall and up the left field line. Loney scored easily, and by the time Michael Brantley dug the ball out of the corner, Longoria also came around to score.
Yunel Escobar grounded to short after Delmon Young was intentionally walked, but Jennings’ two-run double has Tampa Bay in front 3-0.
End 3rd, Rays 1-0: Lonnie Chisenhall did his best to get something going in the bottom of the third. Alex Cobb quickly extinguished any potential fire.
Chisenhall singled into center field after a nice grab by David DeJesus in left field opened up the inning. Yan Gomes made solid contact, but DeJesus raced back and made the catch just before the warning track.
Cobb settled down after Chisenhall’s single to retire Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Bourn struck out and Swisher grounded to James Loney at first base.
Mid 3rd, Rays 1-0: Perhaps the Rays have caught lightning in a bottle.
Delmon Young, who was signed as a free agent in late August after being released by the Phillies, put Tampa Bay in front with a solo homer in the third inning.
Young, who also knocked in a run against Texas on Monday, launched a moon shot on Danny Salazar’s first pitch of the frame. Salazar left a pitch up, and it landed a whole bunch of rows up in left field.
Salazar rebounded to retire Yunel Escobar, Jose Molina and David DeJesus in order.
End 2nd, 0-0: Ryan Raburn provided the first hit of the ballgame in the second inning.
Raburn lined a two-out double into the left-center field gap to pose the game’s first threat. Alex Cobb exited the inning unscathed.
Carlos Santana grounded to third and Michael Brantley flied out to center before Raburn’s two-out knock. Asdrubal Cabrera flied out to center field for the inning’s third out, stranding Raburn at second base in the process.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Danny Salazar is off to a good start.
Salazar again brought the heat while tossing a scoreless inning. Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings went down in order.
Longoria started the frame with a strikeout. He fanned on a changeup in the dirt, and Yan Gomes fired to first base to complete the out.
Zobrist and Jennings both popped out to Lonnie Chisenhall in foul territory along the third base line.
End 1st, 0-0: Terry Francona already came out to dispute a call, although the umpire’s did make the correct decision.
Michael Bourn flied out for the first out, and Nick Swisher struck out for the second out.
There was some dispute, however, as to whether Swisher’s foul tip hit the ground or landed in Jose Molina’s mitt. It was ultimately determined that Molina caught the ball before it hit the ground, which was the correct call.
Alex Cobb ended the inning by retiring Jason Kipnis on a grounder to the right side.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Danny Salazar looks jacked up.
David DeJesus hit a fly ball to deep center field to lead off the game. Michael Bourn ran back to make the grab for the first out.
Wil Myers and James Loney then struggled to make contact. Salazar sat in the high 90s while striking out both hitters.
Salazar’s final pitch of the first inning clocked in at 100 mph. You’ve got to love adrenaline.
8:09 p.m.: Danny Salazar’s first pitch is a strike. We’re underway.
7:57 p.m.: They’re just about ready to get things started in Cleveland.
Based on what I’ve read and heard from you folks, it seems like Red Sox fans would rather see the Indians than the Rays in the ALDS. That’s understandable, for a number of reasons.
Not only would the Indians bring an interesting story because of Terry Francona, but the Rays’ pitching has the potential to cause some problems for Boston. We saw that back in July, when both David Price and Matt Moore shut down the Red Sox’ offense.
This isn’t to take anything away from the Indians’ success, but the Tribe did have a soft schedule down the stretch. We’ll see if the Indians can step it up against top-notch competition Wednesday.
7:18 p.m.: Wednesday’s winner-take-all showdown will involve two teams that finished the regular season on a high note.
The Indians won their final 10 games and went 21-6 in September to earn the top wild card spot. The Rays won nine of their last 11 games, including a one-game tiebreaker over the Rangers on Monday.
Cobb missed 50 games with a concussion this season after being hit in the head with a line drive at Tropicana Field on June 15. When healthy, though, he was terrific, going 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts. Cobb went 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA in nine road starts this season, and the 25-year-old is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts against the Indians.
Salazar, meanwhile, went 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 starts with the Indians. The 23-year-old made his MLB debut on July 11, and he has never faced the Rays in his big league career.
7:02 p.m.: Let’s have a look at Wednesday’s lineups.
David DeJesus, LF
Wil Myers, RF
James Loney, 1B
Evan Longoria, 3B
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Desmond Jennings, CF
Delmon Young, DH
Yunel Escobar, SS
Jose Molina, C
Alex Cobb, RHP (11-3, 2.76 ERA)
Michael Bourn, CF
Nick Swisher, 1B
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Carlos Santana, DH
Michael Brantley, LF
Ryan Raburn, RF
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Yan Gomes, C
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Danny Salazar, RHP (2-3, 3.12 ERA)
6 p.m.: The Red Sox played a six-inning intrasquad game at Fenway Park on Wednesday. The game in Cleveland figures to be much more intense.
The Rays and Indians will square off in the American League wild card game. The winner will move on to face the Red Sox in the ALDS, which begins Friday. The loser will head home for an offseason of golf and non-baseball things.
The Red Sox will be the favorites regardless of who wins Wednesday’s one-game showdown, although either team would present an intriguing matchup. The Rays have become a big rival over the last six years or so, and the Indians are managed by none other than Terry Francona.
The Rays will send Alex Cobb to the mound Wednesday. The Rays will counter with Danny Salazar. Both teams are red hot, and the Rays enter on the heels of a victory over the Rangers in Monday’s tiebreaker game.
Wednesday’s action is set to kick off at 8:07 p.m. Stick around right here with NESN.com for updates throughout the evening.