2013 MLB Playoffs preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The Indians and Rays will square off in a must-win semi-playoff game tonight

10/2/13 in MLB   |   Pat   |   5234 respect

Sep 1, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (17) talks to starting pitcher Danny Salazar (31) after he is hit by a ball hit by Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez (not pictured) in the fourth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsThe Tampa Bay Rays are playing their 3rd straight must-win game. Seriously. Game 162 against the Blue Jays was a must-win, just to get them into a tie-breaker with the Rangers. Then, they played "Game 163" against the Rangers, just to have a chance to play in a one-game playoff tonight with the Indians.

The Indians have also been playing a few must-win games. In fact, they needed a 10-game winning streak at the end of the season just to finish one game ahead of the Rays and Rangers for the first Wild Card spot.

They'll need to make it 11 straight wins, or they'll be done for the season and all of their other 92 wins will have been all for naught.

The Indians will send out rookie phenom Danny Salazar to take on the Rays, who have selected Alex Cobb as their starter. Both young pitchers have been outstanding this year. Salazar went 2-3 in 10 starts with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Cobb started 22 games and went 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA and 1.15 ERA.

The Indians have been limiting Salazar's pitch count this season, usually trying to keep it at around 80, aside from one 103-pitch outing against the Tigers. One would assume that they'll do the same tonight, unless he's completely dominant.

Salazar's ability to go deep into games has been affected by that pitch count, since he racks up a lot of strikeouts, which tends to raise the pitch count pretty quickly. Still, he finished the year with a K/IP of 11.25, the highest in Indians history.

Cobb isn't the same kind of strikeout pitcher that Salazar is but he has been extremely effective this year and with 134 Ks in 143+ innings, he can still strike out a few batters when he needs to.

The Indians offense was a bit better than the Rays this year, but with guys like Salazar and Cobb on the mound, that might not matter all that much. Depending on how long both of these guys can stay in the game, this could be quite a pitchers' duel.

I give the Indians the edge, and I think that Danny Salazar will have a coming out party of sorts. He's a great young pitcher, and he should step up in this big moment. Also, if the Indians crowd can come even close to duplicating the energy that Pirates showed fans last night, that will be a huge advantage.
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10/3/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

Time to get rid of a one game playoff...This is just a fake way to build need.. why have a series if folks are satisfied with one baseball game...so no more World Series... Call it the Great American Baseball Championship Game........!!!!!