The Tampa Bay Rays are back where they belong: in the postseason. Yes, technically they were a part of MLB’s annual tournament when they entered Cleveland for last night’s game. But most folks don’t look at the Wild Card as being much of anything more than a chance to play for all the marbles. Well, Alex Cobb pitched out of trouble on several occasions, the bullpen came in to close things out, and four runs wound up being three more than the Rays would need to dispatch the Indians.
The Rays used superb defense to shut down the Indians. Fact is, that should come as no surprise. Tampa Bay had only fifty-nine errors on the campaign, finishing second to the Orioles in team defense. And finishing second to Baltimore in total errors for a season. By the way, Baltimore set an all-time record for fewest errors in a season. The Rays would have set the record had the Orioles not finished ahead of them. In other words, Tampa Bay had the second fewest errors in history this season.
While the Rays shut out the Indians on nine hits, nine strikeouts, and a single walk, Desmond Jennings, who isn’t at full speed after hamstring issues, came up big, with two hits and a pair of ribbies. And of course , you can’t forget that late-season pickup Delmon Young, back with the club for a second shot, started the scoring with a monstrous home run. Of course, the night truly belonged to Cobb, who might not have had his best stuff, but competed his way through four innings in which the Indians had base base-runners. In the bottom of the fifth, the righty from Vero Beach gave up a double and a single before working his way out of the jam, ending the inning on a 3-6-1 double play that had him securing the last out and fist-pumping his way back to the dugout.
So, all in all, the Rays did what they always do so well. They pitched well, played excellent defense, and came up with some timely hitting. And while some were wringing their hands anxiously when Tampa Bay dropped a pair to Toronto last weekend, I am sure many more are walking around in their Rays’ gear as the good guys head to Boston to begin their American League Divisional Series.