Tampa Bay vs. Cleveland: Keys to Each Team Winning the AL Wild Card Game

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Tampa Bay vs. Cleveland: Keys to Each Team Winning the AL Wild Card Game
J. Meric/Getty Images

Two teams that took drastically different paths to the same destination, Tampa Bay and Cleveland, will meet with their seasons on the line at Progressive Field in the American League Wild Card Game.

The Rays got here by way of a thrilling play-in game against the Texas Rangers this past Monday, while the Indians earned the right to host the one-game playoff—according to manager Terry Francona—by staying away from chicken and beer, per the Associated Press (via ESPN).

Francona was, of course, poking fun at himself and how his tenure as the manager of the Boston Red Sox—the team that awaits the winner of Wednesday night's game—came to an end.

But the skipper of baseball's hottest team won't be cracking jokes once 8 p.m. ET rolls around and Danny Salazar prepares to throw the first playoff pitch for the Indians since 2007, hoping that his rookie hurler can shut down Joe Maddon's playoff-tested squad—which will be making its fourth postseason appearance in the last six years.

Let's take a look at three keys for each team in this win-or-go-home scenario.

 

*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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