Originally posted on BlackSportsOnline  |  Last updated 10/2/13
  Time to settle the score over in the American League. The Rays beat the Rangers in a convincing fashion on game 163 in Texas. Now the tenacious Rays prepare to duke it out with the surging Indians, in Cleveland. The Rays will have Alex Cobb on the mound. Cobb has been one of the most dominate pitchers in the AL with an 11-3 record and 2.76 ERA. While Cobb hasn’t seen much of the Indians (just once all season) he managed to keep them from scoring any runs and gave up only 4 hits in 7 innings. For the Indians their rookie RHP Danny Salazar will have his coming out party. Although a former top prospect the pick is a questionable one given the fact he’s never faced the Rays and he’s far from the best pitcher on the team.  Salazar has a 3.12 ERA in ten starts down the stretch and 65 strikeouts this season. The Indians had intended to shutdown Salazar for the year to control his innings, but with Ubaldo Jimenez haven started on Sunday and Justin Masterson nursing an oblique injury the Indians had to make a gut decision. So let’s just cut to the chase. The Rays looked to be potentially the best team in the AL for a portion of the season, which was then followed by a seemingly never-ending losing streak when they ventured to the west coast. During that streak, they saw beneath them shrink, which resulted in a riveting game 163. The Indians are more well rested and performed well down the stretch–oh and they’ve got a lot to prove having not made the playofs since 2007. One could make the argument they took advantage of a weak schedule and being in a weak division, but that shouldn’t discount the fact they can perform with the best of clubs. Offensively the biggest edge for the Rays is Evan Longoria, he’s a scrappy hitter who can be a pain to get out–don’t leave the bases jacked on him or it will be a long night in Cleveland. For the Indians, their biggest offensive weapon is a combination of players–it was this combination which led to them having the 5th most runs scored. Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana along with the bat of Nick Swisher can get the job done. The battle of the bullpen edge goes to the Rays, where they have Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney. Rodney has been a bit up and down, which prevents the Rays from having run away in this area, but given the fact the Indians closer situation is a total question mark, advantage Rays. Overall, this is a very even matchup and this is a one game playoff–anything can happen. But the team with the most post season experience should likely prevail, the Rays have that edge. Prediction: Rays defeat Indians 5-2
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