Delmon Young slugs solo shot as Rays take early lead in American League Wild Card Game

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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.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.