The Texas Rangers won seven consecutive games entering their American League tiebreaker contest against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday. The Rays put an end to that streak, and two nights later, burst the bubble of a Cleveland Indians team that had reeled off 10 straight victories.
It's not easy to put an end to that much momentum, but the Rays did it anyway, despite a dominant start to the AL Wild Card game by Indians pitcher Danny Salazar, who capped off the first inning with these pitches to James Loney -- the same James Loney who hit .351/.404/.486 on the road this season:
We almost had a controversial call -- something that's become a trademark in MLB play-in games -- in the bottom of the first inning when this was initially ruled a foul ball:
Rays catcher Jose Molina clearly caught the foul tip, and the play was eventually ruled as such, much to the chagrin of Indians manager Terry Francona. At this point, Indians fans might have began to see the writing on the wall -- or, at least the violent dude on the left did:
Sure enough, the Rays got on the board in the top of the third inning with this monster shot off the bat of Delmon Young:
That was Young's ninth home run in 30 career postseason plate appearances.
Tampa Bay found itself in position to add to its lead in the fourth inning. After Loney and Evan Longoria hit back-to-back singles, Desmond Jennings laced a double down the left field line. Loney came around to score easily. Would Longoria make it all the way around from first base?
Well played, Longo.
Cleveland attempted to fight back in the fourth inning when it loaded the bases with one out. Asdrubal Cabrera ended that fight with a rally-killing double play. An inning later, the Tribe had runners on the corners with nobody out and again came up empty-handed due to Alex Cobb's ground ball wizardry.
It was starting to become clear that somebody's bubble was about to burst.
It wasn't supposed to be yours, David.
The Indians again stranded multiple runners in the seventh inning, and almost found themselves down by an additional run in the top of the eighth. Instead, Lonnie Chisenhall did work:
Carlos Santana reached base with one out in the bottom half of the frame, but Michael Brantley couldn't take advantage, even though a fan used his or her beer and/or tobacco spit in an attempt to help him:
Ryan Raburn struck out to end the inning, leaving Santana stranded at first.
The Rays tacked on a run in the top of the ninth thanks to a pair of defensive miscues by the Indians. Down to their last three outs, the Tribe went quietly into the night, beginning with this Cabrera swing-and-miss, which was indicative of Cleveland's evening:
On Monday, it was Chewbacca who stole the celebration for the Rays. Chewie on Wednesday gave way to a good old-fashioned tool used for shenanigans spanning many generations:
The Rays will take their act to Boston this weekend for Games 1 and 2 of the AL Division Series.