MLB

more stats

American League Wild Card Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, October 2nd (All times Eastern)

Tampa Bay Rays (92-71) at Cleveland Indians (92-70), 8:07 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76) Cleveland - Danny Salazar (2-3, 3.12)

(SportsNetwork.com) - No team was hotter than the Cleveland Indians down the stretch. The Tribe shoots for an 11th straight win on Wednesday when they welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Progressive Field for the American League wild card game.

Cleveland won its final 10 regular-season games to earn the No. 1 wild card position. The Indians also became the sixth team in major league history to finish a season on a winning streak of 10 or more games.

Prior to the Indians, the last team to do it was the 1971 Orioles.

Cleveland also went a major-league-best 21-6 in September. It was the first time Cleveland won 20 games in a month since doing so twice in 1995, a year in which the Indians reached the World Series.

"This is what you play for," Indians pitcher Justin Masterson said on Sunday. "You play to win a World Series, but you've got to get there first, get to the playoffs. So you play to get to the playoffs, and here we are with that opportunity. It's just been incredible. The ups and downs of this organization the last few years, we couldn't ask for anything better."

Hosting the game may also be a benefit for the Indians, who were 51-30 in front of their fans this season. However, Cleveland was an absurd 36-52 against teams with .500-or-better records this season.

"It's been a long time since Cleveland's had something like this," Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said after Cleveland clinched the wild card spot on Sunday. "I hope the fans are as excited as we are."

The 92 wins for the Tribe were quite a contrast from a year ago when they lost 94 games.

General manager Chris Antonetti made a bevy of offseason moves, but none may have been bigger than landing manager Terry Francona, whose leadership and calm presence has helped the Indians back to the postseason for the first time in six years.

"I have no doubt," Antonetti said, "that we would not be in the position we are without Tito's leadership."

As big of an impact as Francona has had on Cleveland, it was the team's starting pitching staff that carried them to the finish line. Cleveland's 3.16 ERA since the All-Star break was the second best in the American League and the fourth best in the majors.

During the 10-game winning streak, Indians pitchers held the opposition to two runs or less seven times.

One of those starters, right-handed rookie Danny Salazar, gets the call for the Indians on Wednesday.

"This is awesome," said Salazar, who has never faced the Rays. "The team has trust in me. I'm just going to do my best there."

Salazar has been brilliant since joining the rotation in July, boasting a 3.12 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 65/15 K/BB ratio over 52 innings. He pitched to a 2.53 ERA in five September starts and recorded 33 strikeouts over 25 innings in that span.

"He's not a finished product," Francona said. "The finished product is going to be special, but he's comfortable on the mound. We wouldn't do it if we weren't comfortable."

If there's one drawback to Salazar it's the fact that the 23-year-old has pitched more than six innings in only one of his 10 starts.

So, Francona's bullpen will have to be ready and it's a unit without a leader at the moment, as the Indians will likely employ a closer-by-committee arrangement after Chris Perez was demoted from the closer's role following an awful final month that saw him pitch to a 9.64 ERA.

"I'm here to help the team," Perez said. "I went into (Francona's) office the other night and said, 'I'm not going to cost this team a playoff spot. You need to make a change right now. You've got four or five guys who are throwing the (heck) out of the ball. I don't have an ego. Make the change.' And he did."

One player who could emerge as a huge factor in the bullpen is Masterson, who missed most of September with a strained oblique, but threw three scoreless innings of relief upon returning.

Tampa, meanwhile, needed an extra game to get into this position, as it defeated Texas, 5-2, on Monday in a tiebreaker game to secure the second wild card spot.

"Get your 92nd win, you go to Cleveland against a really good ballclub," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after his team's win on Monday. "They're rested. I like the notion that we've pretty much been playing this (elimination-type) game for about a week now."

David Price went the distance for the fourth time this year and Evan Longoria belted a deciding two-run homer to pace the Rays, who are back in the postseason for the fourth time in the past six years.

"It's a whirlwind, like it always is," said Longoria, who was on base in four of his five at-bats. "We went through so much in the last three days, the ups and downs and the emotions, that it kind of feels like the whole season. We've had a lot of disappointment here, and to be able to celebrate here, it's pretty fitting."

Longoria could be getting hot at the right time for the Rays, as he is 11- for-19 (.579) with seven homers, 11 RBI and nine runs scored over his last five games.

Price (10-8), who came in sporting an ugly 10.26 ERA in four career starts in Arlington, made sure the Rays moved on by limiting the Rangers to two runs on seven hits. The ace struck out four, walked one and retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced to finish off his gem.

"My last time against these guys, I beat them as well, so that kind of gets lost in it, just getting that first game out of the way," said Price. "Getting that first win against a team you've never beat, that's huge. Last time on this mound, I beat those guys. We did it again tonight. It's pretty special."

Getting the call for the Rays on Wednesday will be righty Alex Cobb, whose season was almost derailed back in June when he was hit in the face with a line drive.

The young hurler returned after missing two months and ended the year 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA. Cobb was unbeaten over the final month, going 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA and tossed seven scoreless innings his last time out against the New York Yankees.

"He pitched extremely well once again," Maddon said. "Curveball outstanding, changeup ... I think he was having a hard time command-wise with the changeup early. ... Then he started using his fastball more, which I thought was a great move. But overall, a fantastic performance."

Cobb is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his career against Cleveland. This year, he faced the Indians once and beat them, 6-0, with seven shutout innings on April 6.

Pitching continues to be the Rays' calling card. They threw a team-record 17 shutouts this season, including four in their past 18 games. Their 32 shutouts over the last two years are tied with the Dodgers for most in the majors. They are the first AL team with 15 shutouts in consecutive seasons since the 1989-90 A's.

Tampa won four of its six matchups with the Indians this season.

10/02 10:19:26 ET

  • PGA: AT&T Byron Nelson Championship

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NASL: RailHawks at Jacksonville

    Saturday at 7:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • PGA: AT&T Byron Nelson Championship

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MiLB: Bulls vs. Rochester

    Today at 12:50 pm on Buzz Sports Radio

  • NBA: Houston at Golden State

    Tonight at 9:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • MiLB: Bulls vs. Syracuse

    Friday at 6:50 pm on Buzz Sports Radio

  • NBA: Golden State at Houston

    Friday at 9:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ROC 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
ROC
DUR
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
HOU 4
BAL 1
Final
KAN 1
NYY 5
Final
MIA 1
PIT 5
Final
WAS 2
CHC 3
Final
CWS 9
TOR 10
Final
COL 1
CIN 2
Final
PHI 4
NYM 5
Final
SEA 7
TAM 6
Final
TEX 4
CLE 3
Final
BOS 1
MIN 2
Final
SFG 6
MIL 3
Final
ARI 4
STL 6
Final
DET 1
OAK 0
Final
SDP 4
ANA 0
Final
ATL 0
LOS 8
12:10pm Today
TEX
CLE
 
12:35pm Today
COL
CIN
 
12:35pm Today
MIA
PIT
 
12:37pm Today
CWS
TOR
 
1:05pm Today
KAN
NYY
 
1:10pm Today
BOS
MIN
 
1:10pm Today
PHI
NYM
 
1:10pm Today
SEA
TAM
 
1:40pm Today
SFG
MIL
 
3:35pm Today
DET
OAK
 
4:35pm Today
HOU
BAL
 
8:05pm Tonight
WAS
CHC
 
8:15pm Tonight
ARI
STL
 
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
ANA
 
10:10pm Tonight
ATL
LOS
 
1:05pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Thursday
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Thursday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Thursday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Thursday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Thursday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Thursday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
Final
ATL 88
CLE 118
9:00pm Tonight
HOU
GSW
 
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
9:00pm Sunday
HOU
GSW
 
Final
NYR 7
TAM 3
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI
 
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
ROC
DUR
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR