MLB Notebook: Cobb comes up big on road
Becomes 30th starter to earn winner-take-all postseason victory away from home
Prior to the 2013 American League Wild Card Game, there had been 29 starting pitchers in postseason history who'd taken the ball in a winner-take-all game on the road and withstood that particular crucible to emerge as the winning pitcher.
If one arranges the names and lines by Game Score (an equation used to measure a pitcher's dominance), Justin Verlander, thanks to his 11-strikeout, four-hit shutout in Game 5 of the 2012 AL Division Series -- stands at the head of the line, with his score of 89 just nudging out Sandy Koufax's 88 from his three-hit shutout in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series.
Interestingly enough, Verlander and Koufax are also right next to one another when the list of the 29 is organized by age during those starts, with Verlander at 29 years and 234 days old and Koufax coming in at 29 years and 288 days.
Fernando Valenzuela was the youngest of the group, as he was 20 years and 352 days old when he went into Montreal for Game 5 of the 1981 National League Championship Series and -- thanks in large part to Rick Monday's ninth-inning home run -- came away the winner in a 2-1 victory.
Valenzuela had been one of just six pitchers younger than 26 years old to make this list, with those other five being the Dodgers' Johnny Podres in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, the Yankees' Johnny Kucks in Game 7 of the '56 World Series, the Tigers' Hal Newhouser in Game 7 of the '45 World Series, the Braves' John Smoltz in Game 7 of the '91 NLCS, and the Cardinals' Dizzy Dean in Game 7 of the '34 World Series.
Alex Cobb -- at 25 years and 360 days old for his start on Wednesday night in Cleveland -- now stands just behind Dean on this list, which has grown to accommodate 30 names.
2013 AL Wild Card Game: Rays at Indians
• Cobb (6 2/3 innings, eight hits) and three relievers combined on a nine-hit shutout, as the Rays defeated the Indians, 4-0. In a rematch of the 2008 ALCS, Tampa Bay will face Boston in the ALDS. This is the first shutout in any of the four Wild Card Games played since last season.
• The win marks the second team shutout for the Rays in the postseason, following a 9-0 victory over the Rangers in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS. In that contest -- started by Matt Moore -- the Rays allowed just two hits.
• This shutout was the 20th in a winner-take-all contest. The first took place in Game 7 of the 1909 World Series, when the Pirates and Babe Adams defeated the Tigers, 8-0. The most recent had occurred in Game 7 of the 2012 NLCS, when the Giants defeated the Cardinals, 9-0, to capture the pennant.
Nine of the 20 have taken place in the World Series, and six of the 20 occurred in an LCS, with five of those six happening in the NL. Four have taken place in the DS, with three of those four also occurring in the NL.
• The Rays became the 12th team to go on the road in a winner-take-all game and emerge with a shutout victory. The rest:
-- 1909 World Series, Game 7: Pirates defeated the Tigers, 8-0
-- 1934 World Series, Game 7: Cardinals blanked the Tigers, 11-0
-- 1955 World Series, Game 7: Dodgers defeated the Yankees, 2-0
-- 1956 World Series, Game 7: Yankees topped the Dodgers, 9-0
-- 1957 World Series, Game 7: Braves defeated the Yankees, 5-0
-- 1962 World Series, Game 7: Yankees beat the Giants, 1-0
-- 1965 World Series, Game 7: Dodgers blanked the Twins, 2-0
-- 1981 NLDS, Game 5: Expos topped the Phillies, 3-0
-- 1991 NLCS, Game 7: Braves defeated the Pirates, 4-0
-- 2011 NLDS, Game 5: Cardinals topped the Phillies, 1-0
-- 2012 ALDS, Game 5: Tigers defeated the Athletics, 6-0
• Nine-hit shutouts (or shutouts with more hits allowed) have been fairly rare in the postseason, with this Rays production marking just the ninth. A few details of the other eight:
-- 1943 World Series, Game 5: Spud Chandler allowed 10 hits in a 2-0 Yankees win over the Cardinals that gave New York the World Series title.
-- 1959 World Series, Game 5: Bob Shaw (7 1/3 innings, nine hits) and two White Sox relievers combined on a nine-hitter, as Chicago defeated Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers, 1-0.
-- 1981 NLDS, Game 2: Joe Niekro (eight innings, seven hits) and two relievers combined to allow nine hits in 11 innings, and the Astros defeated the Dodgers, 1-0.
-- 1983 ALCS, Game 4: Storm Davis (six innings, five hits) and Tippy Martinez (four innings) combined on a 10-inning, 10-hit shutout, as the Orioles defeated the White Sox to capture the AL pennant.
-- 1990 World Series, Game 1: Jose Rijo (seven innings, seven hits) and two of the three Nasty Boys -- Rob Dibble and Randy Myers -- threw a combined nine-hit shutout, as the Reds blanked the A's, 7-0.
-- 1991 NLCS, Game 5: Zane Smith (7 2/3 innings, seven hits) and Roger Mason combined on a nine-hitter, as the Pirates defeated the Braves, 1-0.
-- 1997 ALCS, Game 6: Charles Nagy (7 1/3 innings, nine hits) and four Indians relievers combined on a 10-hitter, as the Indians defeated the Orioles, 1-0, in 11 innings and captured the AL Pennant.
-- 2004 ALDS, Game 1: Johan Santana (seven innings, nine hits) and two Twins relievers combined to blank the Yankees on nine hits, 2-0.
• During the regular season, the Rays had set a franchise record with 17 team shutouts. Ten of the 17 occurred on the road, and four of those 10 took place in the final month of the regular season.
• In 17 starts during the regular season against teams with .500 records or better, Cobb went 8-3 (.727 winning percentage) with a 2.51 ERA. Before Cobb, the most recent five pitchers to have at least 15 starts against .500-or-better clubs and produce a winning percentage and ERA as good as Cobb's were David Price (2.37 ERA and .813 winning percentage in 19 starts in 2012), Clayton Kershaw (1.93 ERA and .800 winning percentage in 18 starts in '11), Josh Beckett (1.82 ERA and .800 winning percentage in 16 starts in '11), Felix Hernandez (2.24 ERA and .800 winning percentage in 22 starts in '09) and Andy Pettitte (2.02 ERA and .833 winning percentage in 16 starts in '05).
•Prior to Wednesday, the Indians had been blanked five previous times in postseason games. The others: Game 2 of the 1920 World Series, Game 1 of the '48 Fall Classic, Game 6 of the '95 World Series, Game 1 of the '97 ALCS and Game 4 of the '98 ALCS.
• Indians pitchers combined to strike out 11 batters. All-time, the club's most Ks in a postseason loss came when they struck out 23 Orioles in a 12-inning, 4-3 defeat in Game 4 of the 1996 ALDS. Those 23 strikeouts are the most for any team in a postseason game, win or lose.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.