The Tampa Bay Rays won their third consecutive must-win game on Wednesday night at Progressive Field, defeating the Cleveland Indians 4-0. The Rays battled through September to make it this far, and have been proven to be a team that can handle a lot of pressure. Just two days after defeating the Texas Rangers in a game with the same stipulations, the Rays showed that they are definitely contenders.
Alex Cobb threw for six and two-thirds innings, and allowed eight hits and no runs. Cobb has proved to be a very reliable pitcher for this team that is going to be a huge factor in his team’s chances of moving through the postseason. The offense also showed that they can give their pitchers support, which will keep their starters from getting frustrated and will also keep pressure off of their bullpen. Delmon Young hit a solo homerun off Salazar in the third inning to start the night off right for the Rays. One inning later, Desmond Jennings came up with the biggest hit of the game, a two-run double with two outs to make the score 3-0.
After spoiling Cleveland’s remarkable turn-around season, the Rays now focus their attention to their five-game series with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have been one of the most consistently good teams in the league this season, and there is no doubt that the Rays have their hands full. In order to beat Boston, the Rays have to rely on their starters to pitch well and to pitch deep into games. The Rays’ bullpen has struggled this year, including their closer, Fernando Rodney, who had eight blown saves this season. Tampa Bay’s offense also needs to be playing their best baseball right now, and should look to veterans like Evan Longoria, who have been in the playoff atmosphere before. The Red Sox are going to be a really tough team to beat, but if the Rays can utilize all of the strengths that they have, they have a real shot at winning the series.