Road-warrior Rays down Indians to advance

Thu Oct 3, 2013 7:38pm EDT
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(Reuters) - The Tampa Bay Rays continued to thrive on the road with a clinical 4-0 victory over a profligate Cleveland Indians in their one-game, wild card playoff on Wednesday to advance to the American League Division Series.

The Rays, who played their last eight games away from home and faced three successive must-win games in Toronto, Texas and against the Indians at Progressive Field, will be on the road again on Friday, starting a best-of-five series against the top-seeded Boston Red Sox.

"Three games in three difficult venues... all in enemy territory," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon told reporters. "I'm proud of my guys."

Tampa Bay starting pitcher Alex Cobb, 11-3 during the season, masterfully mixed a big curveball with his fastball and was supported by a home run from designated hitter Delmon Young and a two-run double by center-fielder Desmond Jennings.

He combined with three relievers on the shut out.

Cobb pitched into the seventh, giving up eight hits and wriggling out of jams to spoil the party for the locals, who had finished the season with 10 straight wins to claim a wild card spot after losing 94 games last year.

The 25-year-old Cobb was not at his best but battled through, taking another inspiring step after missing two months due to a concussion after being hit in the head by a vicious line-drive back at him in June.

"You can't put it into words, the appreciation I have of celebrating out on the field," Cobb said.

"I know how close it was to not coming back. When I was sitting on the couch watching these games, I knew we had a chance, I knew we had a great team and I would do everything I could to get back and be a part of it and feel this celebration that we're doing right now."   Continued...

Oct 2, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (center) celebrates with pitcher David Price (second right) teammates after defeating the Cleveland Indians in the American League wild card playoff game at Progressive Field. Tampa Bay won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports