Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians (+104, 7)
The Cleveland Indians raced through September with the best record in the major leagues, including a 10-game winning streak to close out the regular season. Their reward for that finishing kick is hosting the Tampa Bay Rays in a one-game American League wild card playoff on Wednesday for the right to play the top-seeded Boston Red Sox in the Division Series. The Rays earned their entry Monday by winning 5-2 at Texas in a one-game tiebreaker.
That game at Texas forced Tampa Bay to use ace David Price for all nine innings, leaving him unavailable to face Cleveland. The Indians would have preferred to save Ubaldo Jimenez for Wednesday, but an uncertain status forced him to go in his regular rotation spot Sunday. Cleveland feasted on sub-.500 opponents in September but was 36-52 in the regular season against teams with winning records, including 2-4 against the Rays.
TV: 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: Temperatures in the low 70s with partly cloudy skies and winds blowing NE at 2 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76 ERA) vs. Indians RH Danny Salazar (2-3, 3.12)
Cobb finished up the regular season strong with wins in each of his last three starts. The Boston native surrendered a total of three runs on 23 1/3 innings while striking out 26 in those three turns and yielded more than two earned runs just twice in his last nine starts. Cobb made his first start of the season against Cleveland on April 6 and scattered four hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win.
The Indians monitored Salazar carefully over the final month of the season, pulling him from games before 90 pitches. The 23-year-old Dominican struck out eight and allowed two runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings on Sept. 25 before being lifted after 89 pitches - his highest total since Aug. 7. Salazar will be backed up by a bullpen that now includes former ace Justin Masterson.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Cleveland.
* Rays are 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
* Rays are 8-22 in the last 30 meetings in Cleveland.
1. Rays 3B Evan Longoria is 12-for-29 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in his last seven games.
2. Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis closed out the regular season 13-for-28 during a seven-game hitting streak.
3. Tampa Bay 1B James Loney led the majors in road batting average at .351.