At this point, the Rays might never come home.
After winning in New York and Texas, Tampa Bay added Cleveland to that list with a 4-0 win over the Indians in the American League wild-card game. The Rays have been on the road since Sept. 23, travelling a total of 3,627 miles.
Starter Alex Cobb shined for the Rays, getting out of a few jams. Desmond Jennings gave Cobb some cushion in the fourth with a two-run double, and Yunel Escobar drove in a run with a single in the ninth inning.
Tampa’s bullpen, proven reliable over the latter part of the season, combined to allow just one hit over two-and-a-third innings while striking out four. Jennings said defense was the biggest part of Wednesday night’s game.
“We feel like defense wins games,” he said. “Definitely the way Alex went out and pitched today is just like another start for him. The situations that he got himself out of, and you know the plays that were made behind him — that’s what we feel wins games.”
Next up for the Rays, another plane ride. This time, the destination is Boston, where Tampa Bay will play the best of five in Fenway Park for the A.L. division series.
Rays manager Joe Maddon says the team is now hyped up on road trips and feeds off opposing environments.
“Our guys are used to playing in that venue,” he said. “Whether it’s Yankee Stadium packed, Fenway Park packed, we kind of dig it. I mean, we’re playing here in Cleveland packed. The guys dig it. So I think that’s part of it; we’re able to perform relatively well there, but by the same token, so do they.”
The Atlanta Braves begin the National League division series Thursday night at home against the L.A. Dodgers. The Braves won the N.L. East far and away, but are coming off a less-than-stellar September, in which they won only 13 of 27 games.
Kris Medlen, the pitcher in last year’s wild-card playoff loss to St. Louis, takes the mound tonight for Atlanta. Medlen will face off against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who is 16-9, with a 1.83 ERA.
Medlen said he’s tired of the hype leading up to this game, though, and just wants to play it.
“The Dodgers are a great team, but we had to play against them in the regular season, and we played pretty well,” he said. “We’re not running for prom king. We’re ready to play this series and play this team, which is a quality team. At the end of the day, I hope all the attention with the World Series.”
You can hear the game live tonight on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 8pm.