In a battle between two rookie pitchers, Alex Cobb of the Rays got the better of the Indians’ Danny Salazar. Cobb had an impressive and gutty performance in the shutout win, working himself out of multiple binds, including a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, where he induced a 3-6-1 double play that ended the Indians best chance to get on the board.
Meanwhile Salazar began the contest with six straight outs in the first two innings but gave up a solo homer to Delmon Young on the first pitch of the third. The Rays added two more runs in the fourth thanks to Desmond Jennings’ double that plated James Loney and Evan Longoria. An insurance run was scored in the ninth inning courtesy of an error on the Indians' Lonnie Chisenhall.
While Salazar was shaky, Cobb was clutch. Since his mid-August return from the DL, where he placed due to a scary line drive to the head, Cobb has gone 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA. Rays starter and former Cy Young winner David Price had high praise for his performance.
“Over the last 380 or so days, he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball. He just pitched to his potential tonight, and that was way more than good enough for us to win,” Price said. “What he’s done for us this year and how he pitched, I don’t think there was a time he pitched this year we didn’t have a chance to win.”
Cobb held Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, the Indians leadoff batters, hitless over the game, and the Tribe were never able to capitalize when they had runners in scoring position.
"Salazar did what he had to do," said Bourn. "This is on the offense. Not on the offense, really, we hit, but we didn't hit with runners in scoring position. That cost us tonight."
Despite the loss, Cleveland fans can take solace in a turnaround season that saw them improve to 92-70 after losing more than 90 games last year. Still, after winning 10 straight games to reach the Wild Card, the winner-take-all loss brought the season to an abrupt halt.
“We were excited about coming into the game and now we have to go home,” said manager Terry Francona after the game. “That hurts."
The Rays open their best-of-five series against the Red Sox on Friday afternoon.