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.
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.
Cobbs comeback in August from his frightening injury helped stabilize the Rays, who have spent the past two weeks winning crucial games to make 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 Bays dependable bullpen.
Joel Peralta struck out Nick Swisher on three pitches, ending Clevelands last real chance.
Fernando Rodney worked a perfect ninth, striking out Lonnie Chisenhall to end it. Rodney dropped to one knee and pointed skyward and soon was mobbed by all the Rays, who may be a little homesick but are Boston-bound.
Unfazed by a raucous, red-clad, towel-waving 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 year.
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 didnt capitalize on scoring opportunities. The first three hitters, Michael Bourn, Swisher and Jason Kipnis, went a combined 0 for 12.
The road-tested Rays, who have traveled 3,627 miles since leaving home on Sept. 23, took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on Desmond Jennings two-run double.
James Loney and Evan Longoria hit one-out singles before Salazar retired Ben Zobrist on a fly to right, sending Loney to third. Jennings, who recently missed time with a hamstring injury, pulled Salazars pitch past diving a diving Chisenhall at third, and by the time left fielder Michael Brantley, who had been shading Jennings toward center, ran it down, Loney and Longoria scored to give Cobb a three-run cushion.
Cobb was in trouble in the bottom of the inning as the Indians loaded the bases on a double, single and walk. But Cobb got Asdrubal Cabrera to hit a grounder to first baseman Loney, who threw to second for a force and shortstop Yunel Escobar fired to Cobb covering first for the double play.
Youngs ninth homer in the past three Octobers gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the third, and their first hit off Salazar.
Drafted first overall by Tampa Bay in 2003, Young returned to the Rays in August with plenty of postseason experience – and success. He was the ALCS MVP with Detroit last season as the Tigers swept the New York Yankees in four games.
Now hes on the road with the Rays, who want to travel as deep as they can this month.