AL Wild Card Game: Alex Cobb, Bullpen Shut Down Indians

By David Hill

After everything that Alex Cobb had to go through this season with the line drive off of his head, it almost seemed fitting that Cobb would be on the mound against the Cleveland Indians for the right to face the Red Sox. Standing in the way was the Indians electric rookie starter Danny Salazar.

Cobb and Salazar lived up to their reputations as two of the better young starters in the American League at the start of the game, with Salazar setting down the first six batters he faced while touching 99 with his fastball in the first inning.

The Rays got to Salazar in the third. Prodigal son Delmon Young led off the inning  by hammering the first pitch he saw to left for a home run, breaking open the scoreless tie. Tampa extended the lead in the fourth, putting runners on first and second with two outs for Desmond Jennings, who drove both runners in with a double to left.

That would prove to be all the support that Cobb would need. Cleveland did their best to rally, loading the bases with one out for Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera grounded to first, starting a double play as Cobb got out of the jam unscathed. He continued to work out of trouble, as the Indians stranded runners in scoring position in four different innings. Cobb departed with two outs in the seventh, shutting out the Indians on eight hits and a walk, striking out five.

Tampa took advantage of the Indians miscues in the ninth. With a runner on first and one out, Young grounded to third for what appeared to be an inning ending double play. However, Lonnie Chisenhall had the ball go off his glove for an error, and Yunel Escobar hit a line drive off the glove of Nick Swisher to plate an important insurance run.

Fernando Rodney came in, slamming the door on Cleveland to preserve the victory and send the Rays on to Boston Friday night. Young, who has nine postseason home runs in the past two years, was 1-3 with the home run and an intentional walk.

Jennings was 2-3 with a double and two RBIs in the victory.