The Tampa Bay Rays continued their survive-and-advance run this week by beating the Cleveland Indians 4-0 to advance to the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox.
The Rays have won on the road in Toronto, Texas and now Cleveland to keep their season going. The past two wins have been fueled by great work from their starting pitchers.
This marked the second time in Rays history that they won a win-or-go-home postseason game. The other was Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS when they beat the Red Sox, a team managed by current Indians manager Terry Francona.
The Indians have now been eliminated from postseason play at home four times. This was the first time since 1999, when they lost to the Red Sox in Game 5 of the ALDS when Pedro Martinez beat them with six hitless innings of relief.
How Cobb won
Rays starter Alex Cobb became the third Rays pitcher to throw at least six scoreless innings in a postseason start, joining Scott Kazmir (2008 ALCS) and Matt Moore (2011 ALDS). Moore pitched in the only other Rays postseason shutout -- Game 1 against the Texas Rangers.
He’s the fifth starter or reliever on any team to do so in a winner-take-all postseason game since baseball went to three rounds of playoffs in 1995. The others are Tom Glavine (1996 Braves), Martinez (1999 Red Sox against the Indians), Chris Carpenter (2011 Cardinals) and Justin Verlander (2012 Tigers).
Alex Cobb Wednesday at Indians
But it wasn’t easy.
Cobb escaped jam after jam by getting outs with two pitches -- a curveball that he threw 35 times, more than any other start in his career, and a changeup that got him four inning-ending outs.
Cobb ranked third in the majors with a 57 percent ground ball rate this season.
Cobb is now 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA in 10 starts since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 15.
Inside the at-bat: Delmon Young’s home run
Delmon Young’s home run against Danny Salazar accounted for the Rays’ first run.
Young has nine postseason home runs over the past three seasons, the most of anyone in the majors.
Of Young's nine career postseason home runs, five have now come on the first pitch.
Young has the highest career first-pitch swing rate (45 percent) of any active player.
He's a career .350 hitter on the first pitch (.267 on all other counts).
Remember, too, that Young has the game-winning RBI in each of his team’s past five postseason wins. He had the game-winning RBI in all four games against the Yankees in last year's ALCS.
Stat of the Day
The Indians managed nine hits in being shut out. That’s one hit shy of the most by a team that didn’t score in a nine-inning postseason elimination game.
The only other instance happened 70 years ago, when the Cardinals managed 10 hits but were shut out while being knocked out in the World Series by the Yankees.