CLEVELAND – There were plenty of big moments in the American League Wild Card game on Wednesday but the Tampa Bay Rays seemed to come out on top in each of them. The Rays shut out the Cleveland Indians 4-0 to move on to the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox beginning Friday. Here are a few notes from Wednesday:
-Cleveland left nine runners on base, six of them in scoring position. It was the first time the Indians have ever had nine hits in a postseason game without a run. The last time Cleveland had nine hits without a run in any game was June 9, 1938. “We played a good team and we missed some opportunities with runners in scoring position,” Cleveland outfielder Michael Bourn said. “I missed one in the fourth inning and we just couldn’t come through when we needed to. (Tampa Bay) got on the board first which is big in a one-game playoff like this.”
-Among the nine left on base, Cleveland had second and third with two outs and the bases loaded with one out and none of the three situations produced a run. It all started in the bottom of the fourth inning. Former Detroit Tiger Ryan Raburn walked with one out to loaded the bases before Asdrubal Cabrera grounded into a 3-6-1 DP. Cabrera finished 0-for-4.
In the fifth inning, runners were on first and third for Nick Swisher, who grounded out to first. Tampa couldn’t turn two to end the inning, but Jason Kipnis grounded out. Kipnis and Swisher both went 0-for-4 along with Bourn.
“(Alex) Cobb had a really good change up going and obviously in playoff games you are going to see more off speed than normal,” Swisher said. “It was crazy how many strikes he was throwing and sometimes you run into a buzz saw like that.”
-Danny Salazar pitched his first MLB playoff game and wasn’t that bad. He only allowed three runs on four hits, but two mistakes led to the three runs. He left a fastball up to Delmon Young, who hit a solo home run, and left a 1-0 fastball to Desmond Jennings with two outs in the fourth, which resulted in a two-run double.
“It was a bad location on Delmon,” Salazar said. “Against Desmond I was trying to not to leave my fastball up and mix my pitches but he had a good swing. We are just going to work hard in the offseason to get back here. I had a little taste of the playoffs and like it.”
Salazar is on 23 and looks like the future of the Indians’ rotation.
“He knew what he had to do,” Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes said about Salazar. “He pitched well and the goal was for him to give us 4-5 good innings. He had some mistakes but overall pitched well.”
-A lot of the talk in the clubhouse was about the one-game playoff system. While it has received mixed reviews, Lonnie Chisenhall didn’t blame the system, he had an interesting perspective.
“In the old system we’d be talking about playing Boston,” Chisenhall said. “At the same time, who knows how we would have played in September without the second Wild Card spot. It’s fun for the fans and the players.”