Big League Stew

AL wild card: Rays blank Indians 4-0 to advance to ALDS

Big League Stew

The Tampa Bay Rays survived yet again, beating the Cleveland Indians 4-0 in Wednesday's AL wild card game at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Rays now advance to their fourth ALDS in six seasons. The Rays had already survived a do-or-die tiebreaker game on Monday to keep their postseason dreams alive.

Desmond Jennings, whose two-run double in the fourth inning put the Rays up 3-0. He added a second hit in the seventh inning. The Rays' other run came on a solo homer by Delmon Young — ahem, make that reigning ALCS MVP Delmon Young — who crushed a Danny Salazar fastball in the third inning for the first hit of the game for either team.

Rays starter Alex Cobb wasn't dominating, but he was very good. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, scattering eight hits, not surrendering a run and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 of them for strikes.

Indians batters with runners in scoring position. They stranded six runners in scoring position, including a fourth inning where they loaded the bases with one out. Then Asdrubal Cabrera grounded into a double play. In the fifth, they had runners at second and third with nobody out and couldn't muster a run.

Nick Swisher can especially hang his head. He was part of that disappointing fifth inning. He struck out in the seventh with two runners on, a situation where he represented the game's tying run.

Jennings' fourth-inning double and the killed Indians rally that followed. The 1-0 deficit didn't crush the Indians, but when the Rays took a 3-0 lead, things got tougher. When Cabrera hit that inning-ending double play in the Indians' half of the inning, the mood at Progressive Field deflated.

• With his home run Wednesday, Delmon Young now has has 9 homers in 109 postseason at-bats. In his career, he's averaging one homer per 37 at-bats in the regular season.

• The Indians bullpen gave their offense a chance to catch up. Five Cleveland relief pitchers went five innings, giving up only four hits and an unearned run in the ninth inning.

• Swisher is now 2-for-53 against the Rays in his career.

Cleveland frustration. Another rough night for a beat-down sports city. In the eighth inning, a beverage (it looked like a beer maybe) from the crowd flung in the direction of Rays outfielder David DeJesus as he ran into foul territory to catch a fly ball. Maybe it was a cup of tears.

The Rays, having now survived the tight AL wild card race and Wednesday's game, have to go face the team with the best record in the AL, the Boston Red Sox (97-65). Things don't exactly get easier now. Game 1 is at 3 p.m. ET on Friday at Fenway Park.

The postseason is upon us. Spend it with The Stew.
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