ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rays survived a one-game showdown Monday to continue their season.
Now they need to repeat the feat.
A 5-2 victory Monday in the tiebreaking game against Texas gave Tampa Bay the second American League wild card. The Rays play at Cleveland in the wild-card game Wednesday, with the winner advancing to take on the Red Sox in the AL Division Series beginning Friday.
"That's what an ace does. That's what a leader of a staff does. It was awesome to watch," third baseman Evan Longoria said of left-hander David Price's complete game Monday.
The wild-card game features two young right-handers, Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb, 25; and Cleveland's Danny Salazar, 23.
Both were effective in the stretch run.
Cobb won each of his final three regular-season starts, allowing three runs in 26 1/3 innings. He struck out 26 and walked five in that span. Cobb gave up more than two runs only twice in his final 10 regular-season starts.
Salazar gave up more than two runs only twice in 10 regular-season starts -- the entirety of his major league career. He joined the Cleveland rotation for good in August and established himself enough that he is entrusted with starting the biggest game of the year.
Cobb faced Cleveland once this year, in his first start of the season, and he threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings in a 6-0 win. Salazar will face the Rays for the first time.
"If Cobb pitches the way he's been pitching since I got here, we're in good position," Rays outfielder Delmon Young said.
Just to get this far, the Rays swept four home games against the Orioles, won four of six games in a regular-season-ending road trip that included a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium, then won at Texas.
"They're rested," manager Joe Maddon said of the well-traveled Rays. "I like the notion that we've pretty much been playing this (elimination-type) game for about a week now."
It all comes down to one game. Again.