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.
“Can’t put into words the appreciation I have celebrating on this field,” Cobb said. “I knew how close it was to not coming back. Sitting on the couch watching these games, I knew we had a good chance. We have a great team. I was going to do everything I could to get back and be a part of it.”
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.
“I felt like we’ve done it and been here before,” said Desmond Jennings, who hit a two-run double. “The road we took to get here was pretty tough going to New York, Toronto, playing a game in Texas.”
Cobb’s comeback in August from his frightening injury helped stabilize the Rays, who have spent the past two weeks winning crucial games to reach 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, pointed skyward and soon was mobbed by all the Rays, who may be a little homesick but are Boston-bound.