Wild Card Recap: Rays 4 – Indians 0

Player(s) of the Game

The bullpen and Justin Masterson in particular deserve all the credit for keeping this game winnable until the ninth inning. Marc Rzepczynski, Bryan Shaw along with Masterson combined to throw four innings and didn't allow a run, giving up just three hits while striking out five.

Goat of the Game

Nick Swisher, he of so much play-off experience, had four at bats in tonight's game including a pivotal chance in the fifth inning. With runners at first and third, where a sacrifice fly would have scored the Indians' first run, Swisher hit an easy ground ball to first that should have been a double play. In his other at bats he went 0-3 with two strike outs, one of which came with two on in the seventh and ended the inning. The game was full of missed opportunities and the top three batters going 0-12 was largely to blame.

Recap

1st Inning: Danny Salazar had a top fastball from the very first inning, when he struck out two Rays to end the inning. He struck out Evan Longoria to begin the second as well, giving him three in a row. Two of the other three batters faced in the first two innings popped out easily to Lonnie Chisenhall at third.

2nd: Ryan Raburn had the games first hit with a two out double to the gap in right in the second. The Indians didn't have the two out magic this time as Asdrubal Cabrera popped out to end the inning.

3rd: Delmon Young broke the tie in the third with a first pitch solo home run to lead off the inning. The pitch was a high fastball from Salazar. While Young has shown power throughout his care, he had just 11 in 2013 and batted just .258 while with the Rays.

3rd: Alex Cobb was as expected for the Rays, throwing nothing but strikes early on, allowing just two hits and no walks through the first three innings. While he wasn't getting many swings and misses, he was able to keep the Indians hitters off balance, forcing them to foul off a lot of pitches and make easy outs with the ones they put in play.

4th: Things got shaky for Salazar in the fourth inning after striking out Will Myers. Two ball counts lead to singles by both James Loney and Longoria before Ben Zobrist flew out to right. A Desmond Jennings double down the left field line then brought both base runners home to give the Rays a three run lead.

4th: Jason Kipnis started the fourth inning off with a long at bat, but was only able to ground out to second. Carlos Santana then did a lot more with a lot fewer pitches, taking the 2-1 pitch down the right field line for the Indians second double of the game. Michael Brantley beat out an infield single to extend the inning, but Cabrera made a quick end to the threat with a double play.

5th: Terry Francona started matching up in the fifth inning after Salazar walked the lead-off hitter. In all, Salazar ended up throwing four innings, allowing four hits and three runs while striking out four in his post season debut. The biggest mistake of Salazar during the game was the high fastball thrown on the first pitch to Young, but otherwise, he pitched as well as could have been expected for a 23 year old rookie. Marc Rzepczynski and Bryan Shaw combined to finish the scoreless fifth with two strike outs and a Jose Molina caught stealing by Yan Gomes.

5th: Cobb started losing his pin perfect control after the third inning and he allowed five of six straight batters to reach between the fourth and fifth innings. Nick Swisher almost squandered the fifth like Cabrera did in the fourth, but a poor fielding decision by Loney cost the Rays a double play. However, with two runners in scoring position and two outs, Kipnis hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher to end the inning without scoring a run.

6th: Cobb used those high pressure situations as a launching point as he breezed through the sixth inning, striking out both Santana and Raburn for just his second 1-2-3 inning on the night. While the Rays starter was still in the game with a shut out and less than 100 pitches thrown, the Indians had already used their third pitcher of the night.

7th: Justin Masterson came in for Shaw in the seventh and had a sharp slider, similar to his three regular season relief appearances. Masterson easily struck out Young and got an easy ground ball off Yunel Escobar. He then struck out Molina to end the inning and strand pinch-runner Sam Fuld at first.

7th: Cobb pitched into trouble again in the seventh and was unable to finish the inning. He allowed hits to the only two batters that had him figured out, Yan Gomes and Lonnie Chisenhall, and was pulled for Joel Peralta with two outs. His replacement continued the Rays shut out by shutting the Indians down in yet another run scoring opportunity. In the end, Cobb went 6.2 shut out innings, allowing eight hits while striking out five.

8th: A poor throw by Chisenhall helped the Rays get runners on first and second with nobody out in the eighth, but he more than made up for it. He started a double play on ground ball from Loney and then made a terrific diving catch to end the inning.

9th: Continuing on his roller coaster of a night, Chisenhall committed the games first error in the ninth inning that allowed runners to reach first and third with one out. Escobar then hit a line drive off the glove of Swisher that allowed an unearned run to score.

9th: The Indians had their most successful hitters coming up again in the ninth against Rays closer Fernando Rodney, but they couldn't do it four straight times as they fell in order to end the game. While this was the final nail in the coffin, ending the Indians' season, the Tribe really lost the game much earlier on when they didn't take advantage of any of the many great scoring opportunities they had against Alex Cobb.

Final Score: Cleveland Indians 0 – Tampa Bay Rays 4

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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