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CLEVELAND (AP) — A year ago around this time, the Tampa Bay Rays stopped at Progressive Field, won a wild-card game and kept on the road in the AL playoffs.
On Sunday, they packed up and went home.
Considered a World Series favorite when training camp opened, Tampa Bay ended its first losing season since 2007 as Alex Cobb gave up two home runs in the second inning and the Rays dropped their finale 7-2 to the Indians.
The Rays figured to contend. Instead, they went 77-85 and finished fourth in the AL East.
"It's not good," manager Joe Maddon said. "We don't like it at all. It's been an awkward year. There have been some wonderful individual performances. The bad thing is we lost 85 games."
Cobb (10-9), who won the wild-card game here last October, allowed four runs and 10 hits in six innings. Despite finishing 6-3 in the second half and with one of the league's lowest ERAs (2.87), Cobb was dissatisfied with his finale.
"It's frustrating to end on a note like that," Cobb said. "Once I get to the offseason maybe I'll start looking back on it a little more."
Rookie Zach Walters and David Murphy hit solo second-inning homers off Cobb, and Carlos Santana added two RBIs. The Indians failed to build on last season, when they won 92 games.
Tampa Bay was 24-42 on June 10, battled its way back to .500 on Aug. 15 at 61-61 and went 16-24 in their final 40 games. The Rays traded ace David Price to Detroit in July, a deal which will make it even tough to get back among the league's elite.
"It does sting," Maddon said. "We don't like it. We've been on a pretty good run. We still won 90 games and missed (the playoffs). That was bad but not awful because you had yourself a pretty good year. This year we did not have a very good year. That's what stings. If we had won 90 or 91 games and were beaten out at the end, it wouldn't be any fun, but it wouldn't be as bad as not playing up to your potential all year.
"We have a lot to figure out to get us back to that 90-plus win plateau. That's the goal you set and if you do that hopefully that will be enough. It normally is."
Walters gave the Indians a 4-2 lead in the sixth with an RBI double. Murphy singled leading off, and with one out, Walters ripped a liner over charging left fielder Brandon Guyer, who misplayed a possible out into extra bases. Murphy never stopped, scoring ahead of the relay throw.
Murphy and Walters connected in the second to make it 2-1 against Cobb, who hadn't given up four earned runs since June 23.
"It wasn't my A-plus stuff," Cobb said. "It was one of those days the guys were locked in. They put some good swings on balls. When I missed some pitches they capitalized pretty heavily on them."
Rodriquez gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the second, crushing House's first pitch for his 12th homer.
Rays 3B Evan Longoria started all 162 games and has played in 242 consecutive, the second longest active streak behind Giants OF Hunter Pence, who is at 383. Longoria is one of four players to appear in every game this season. Pence, Braves 1B Freddie Freeman and Royals SS Alcides Escobar are the others.
Tampa Bay's pitchers finished with 1,430 strikeouts, 20 fewer than the Indians, who set a new major league record.
At 41-40, the Rays are the only team in the majors to have a winning road record and an overall losing mark. The last team to do that was the Chicago White Sox (2011).
NO STING RAYS
The Rays finished with an AL-low 612 runs, the fewest in club history. Tampa Bay scored 620 in 1998.
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