GAME UPDATES: Indians Host Rays In Front of Sold-Out Crowd
CLEVELAND — For the first time in six years, Progressive Field is packed for postseason baseball as the Cleveland Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card.
“I am a big fan of Tito’s,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon on Tuesday afternoon before reporters.
Maddon and Francona have faced each other several times in the postseason, dating back to the days when Francona managed the Red Sox in Boston.
The Rays have been in the postseason four of the last six seasons. The Rays saw their lead in the Wild Card race eclipsed by Cleveland in the last few days of the regular season.
Tampa had to beat Texas 5-2 on Monday night to earn a trip to the Rock and Roll City.
Alex Cobb will face the Indians for the second time this season as he puts his 11-3 record on the line against rookie Danny Salazar.
Cobb beat the Indians on four hits in April but insisted to reporters Tuesday that the Indians are not the same team they were back then.
Salazar was pitching in AA Akron when the season began but has started to establish himself as one of the game’s emerging young talents over the course of his 10 major league starts.
His era is 3.12 and he can bring the heat, having struck out 65 batters in 52 innings on the hill. He is confident, without being over the top, and looks like he will be able to handle the pressure.
If for some reason he can’t, Francona knows he can go to his bullpen sooner rather than later because as many as nine arms will be available.
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The winner of the Wild Card game will earn a trip to Boston to begin the American League Divisional Series against the top seed in the American League, the Red Sox. That series begins Friday afternoon in Boston at 3:07 p.m.
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