Indians right-hander Danny Salazar was dominant in his first two innings of this American League Wild Card Game, racking up three strikeouts against the six Tampa Bay batters that he faced. But the script was flipped in the top of the third inning when Rays designated hitter Delmon Young crushed a first-pitch solo homer to deep left at Progressive Field.
Yunel Escobar followed Young’s blast with a hard-hit lineout to center field and Jose Molina smacked a hard grounder to second base for the second out. David DeJesus then popped out to short right.
Rays right-hander Alex Cobb — a much more finesse-based starter than the hard-throwing Salazar — has surrendered two Cleveland hits but no Cleveland runs over his first three frames. So it’s a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay as we move to the top of the fourth.
Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.
Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.
Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.
Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.