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 on 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.
Cobb’s 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 Bay’s dependable bullpen.
Joel Peralta struck out Nick Swisher on three pitches, ending Cleveland’s 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 season.
David Price set the tone for the Rays’ postseason run by throwing a complete game to beat Texas in the wild-card tiebreaker, and Cobb picked up where his teammate left off. After he was pulled in the seventh, Cobb walked to the dugout where he was first greeted with a high-five from Price.
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 didn’t capitalize on scoring opportunities. The first three hitters, Michael Bourn, Swisher and Jason Kipnis, went a combined 0 for 12.
RANGERS: Texas is not renewing the contracts of first- base coach Dave Anderson and bench coach Jackie Moore for next season.
The Rangers made the announcement a day after Manager Ron Washington said he intended on having all his coaches back in 2014.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux, hitting coach Dave Magadan, third-base coach Gary Pettis and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins are all expected to return.
TIGERS: After winning the Triple Crown in 2012, Miguel Cabrera was even better for much of this season. Toward the end, though, a number of nagging problems began to add up.
On Aug. 20, Cabrera aggravated a strain in his groin, abdominal and hip area. He kept playing, never going on the disabled list, but his numbers finally dipped a bit. At the end of an Aug. 26 game against Oakland, Cabrera was hitting .359 with 43 homers and 130 RBI. Since then he’s hit .284 with only two extra-base hits in 25 games.
The Tigers were in control in the AL Central throughout September, so they didn’t need Cabrera at full speed. They could use a healthier version of him now, heading into the division series against the Athletics.
“He’s not 100 percent,” Manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s been playing in a lot of pain. He’s a real tough guy. I think if anybody knew the pain he’s playing in, they probably wouldn’t believe it.”
DODGERS-BRAVES: It’s been a while since either team played a truly meaningful game.
Los Angeles took control of the NL West with an amazing 21/2-month stretch and could let off the gas over the final weeks.
Atlanta won the East going away, its commanding lead not at all threatened by a losing record over the final month.
Now it’s time to get serious again.
They meet Thursday night in Game 1 of the NLDS.
“I don’t think we necessarily let up,” Dodgers infielder Michael Young said after a workout at Turner Field. “In our situation, we had to get some guys healthy. A couple of guys needed a couple of days off, so we gave it to them. Now we’re ready to roll.”
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA) will face Kris Medlen (15-12, 3.11) in the opener.