CLEVELAND — They shut off the lights, cranked up the music and turned their clubhouse into a nightclub.
As Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop The Party” boomed off walls covered by plastic sheets, the Tampa Bay Rays sprayed each other with Silly String and emptied bottles of champagne as quickly as they could open them.
This road trip isn’t ending anytime soon.
“Nobody wants to go home,” pitcher Alex Cobb said.
Next stop: Boston.
Dodging trouble for nearly seven innings, Cobb and the Rays pitched their way to another must-have win on the road, beating the Cleveland Indians 4-0 on Wednesday night in the AL wild-card game.
Cobb, who missed a chunk of the regular season after he was hit in the head by a line drive, quieted a thundering Cleveland crowd and ended the Indians’ unexpected season just one game into October.
Delmon Young homered in the third inning off rookie Danny Salazar as the Rays, playing in their third city over four days, advanced to face the AL East champion Red Sox in the best-of-five division series starting Friday.
“I felt like we’ve done it and been here before,” said Desmond Jennings, who hit a two-run double in the fourth to give the Rays a 3-0 lead. “The road we took to get here was pretty tough, going to New York, Toronto, playing a game in Texas.”
Cobb’s comeback in August from his frightening injury helped stabilize the Rays, who have spent the past two weeks winning crucial games to reach the postseason for the fourth time in six years. He pitched out of massive jams in the fourth and fifth, and allowed two runners to reach in the seventh before turning it over to Tampa Bay’s dependable bullpen.
“Maybe it was good that I got into some jams,” Cobb said. “It made me slow down and make the pitches that I needed to.”