Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Cobb harnesses energy to beat Indians

CLEVELAND — Alex Cobb had deftly navigated the Indians lineup and the roaring Progressive Field crowd for most of seven innings, then handled his own in the postgame media interview room.

But he finally got slowed down Wednesday — as he walked back into the Rays clubhouse, the other pitchers were waiting to ambush him with champagne and other assorted surprises.

Cobb had plenty to celebrate, making the most of his first post-season start, from calming his emotions to executing pitches.

"It was tough,'' he said. "From the second I stepped out on the field tonight to go warm up, the crowd was electric. I haven't experienced anything like that.''

It helped that he saw how David Price handled it in Texas, and Price — like always — was offering advice Wednesday.

"It took me a few innings to really figure out how to harness that and slow things down,'' Cobb said. "Maybe it was a good thing I got in some jams because it did make me slow down a couple times and execute a big pitch.''

Cobb allowed eight hits over 6-2/3 innings, with one walk and five strikeouts.

ROSTER MOVES: Leaving off DH Luke Scott was one of the tougher decisions the Rays faced in setting a 25-man roster for Wednesday's wild-card game, manager Joe Maddon said.

But Scott was hardly surprised: "It is what it is. I haven't played much in the last seven weeks, so the writing's on the wall. But I'll come out here, get my work in, do the best I can no matter what. I'll cheer my teammates on.''

Other interesting moves in settling on 16 position players and nine pitchers included carrying rookie OF Kevin Kiermaier, to provide outfield defense and insurance given CF Desmond Jennings' hamstring issue; putting LH starter Matt Moore in the bullpen as of four lefties, noting he matched up well with certain Indians hitters; choose LH Wesley Wright over Brandon Gomes for the final bullpen spot, also a product of matchups; and carrying Chris Gimenez as the third catcher, allowing flexibility for in-game moves but probably at the expense of pinch-runner Freddy Guzman.

The roster will be reset, with more pitchers added, for the Friday start of the Division Series.

CROWD SCENE: The atmosphere at Progressive Field was electric, and Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said "the one disappointing part of this" was that the Rays didn't win the top wild card so they could have hosted. "There would be roaring, it would be incredible, another memorable night at Tropicana Field," he said before the game. "It wasn't to be. And now we'll have to do it next week."

LONG TIME COMING: Until he led off Wednesday, OF David DeJesus had played the fifth most regular-season games among active big-leaguers without appearing in the postseason, 1,277. Ahead of him: White Sox DH/1B Adam Dunn, 1,869; Yankees OF Vernon Wells, 1,730; Rangers OF Alex Rios, 1,452; and Orioles 2B Brian Roberts, 1,325.

BROADCAST NEWS: Rays TV play-by-play man Dewayne Staats is one of 10 finalists for the Ford C. Frick Award, the annual Hall of Fame honor for excellence in broadcasting. … Fox Sun Sports said the 2013 season featured the second-highest overall ratings in team history, a household rating average of 4.93 (percentage of TVs in the Tampa Bay market tuned in), a 1 percent increase over 2012. Since Sept. 10, the Rays have averaged 5.72 HH. Monday's tiebreaker game peaked at 15.6, approximately 285,000 homes.

MISCELLANY: The Rays notched a second postseason shutout. … OF Wil Myers and RHP Chris Archer are finalists, along with Tigers SS Jose Iglesias, for the Players Choice AL Outstanding Rookie Award, given in November. … Sternberg was joined by members of the ownership group, and most of the Rays' top baseball executives at the game.

Rays wild-card roster

This is the 25-man roster the Rays set for Wednesday's one-game wild-card playoff, with 16 position players and only nine pitchers.

Pitchers

RH Chris Archer*

RH Alex Cobb

LH Jake McGee

LH Matt Moore

RH Joel Peralta

RH Fernando Rodney

LH Alex Torres*

RH Jamey Wright

LH Wesley Wright

Catchers

Chris Gimenez

Jose Lobaton

Jose Molina

Infielders

Yunel Escobar

Kelly Johnson

James Loney

Evan Longoria

Sean Rodriguez

Ben Zobrist

Outfielders

David DeJesus

Sam Fuld

Desmond Jennings

Matt Joyce

Kevin Kiermaier*

Wil Myers*

Designated hitter

Delmon Young

* Rookies

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