Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/3/13
The city changes almost daily but the Tampa Bay Rays are playing the same game everywhere one that establishes them as a legitimate threat to the American League's three division winners in this year's playoffs. Next stop Boston after the Rays used their trademark pitching and defense to stifle the Cleveland Indians and another raucous hostile playoff crowd 4-0 in Wednesday's wild-card game. "We pitch well we play defense well" says Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Anytime you can pitch and play defense you have a shot in a short series. There's no other way around it." What the Rays must get around next as they make their way around the country is the best team in the AL the Red Sox squad that finished 5 ½ games in front of Tampa Bay in the AL East. That best-of-five series starts Friday at Fenway Park. Playing in their third city in four days –and their second winner-take-all game in three days after a one-game play-in Monday at Texas – the Rays got a couple of key hits against fireballing Cleveland rookie Danny Salazar Delmon Young's leadoff homer in the third and Desmond Jennings' two-out two-run double in the fourth. "We've done it" Jennings said in a TV interview. "We've been here before. The road we took here was tough." But offense is almost secondary. It there's a Rays Way it's what we're seeing this week. Alex Cobb wasn't nearly as eye-popping as Salazar just better. The act he really was trying to follow was David Price the Tampa Bay ace whose complete game eliminated Texas. "The adrenaline was going" Cobb said in a TV interview. "Once Delmon hit that home run I made my defense work. Jose (Molina) called a great game." Price is the unquestioned leader of the staff as the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. But Cobb led them with a 2.76 earned run average despite missing two months after taking a line drive off his head in June. He's been even better since the injury a 2.17 ERA including his 6 2/3 shutout innings Wednesday. Next up for the first game at Boston is Matt Moore the lefty whose 17 victories led Tampa Bay. Pick your poison.
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