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Rays' Alex Cobb trying to find his groove

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 29: Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in the second inning during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on June 29, 2014 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) 477585789

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 29: Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in the second inning during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on June 29, 2014 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) 477585789

ST. PETERSBURG — The first half of the season hasn't gone the way RHP Alex Cobb intended.

He spent a month on the disabled list with an oblique strain and has tried to find consistency with his mechanics since returning in mid May.

"It's been some ups and downs," said Cobb, who will make his final scheduled start before the All-Star break tonight. "It's been a strange first half for me. … I feel like I fix one thing, and something else will happen, and I have to fix that. Right now I feel really good."

Cobb has won back-to-back starts, but that statistic doesn't tell his whole story. He didn't get an out in the sixth inning either time, and he has lasted past the sixth in only three of his nine starts since returning from injury.

Cobb was on track for a deep outing Friday at Detroit before his night unraveled. He allowed the first four batters in the sixth to reach base and left a bases-loaded, no-out jam for RHP Brad Boxberger.

"I didn't do a good enough job into that sixth inning," Cobb said. "Hopefully from here on out, I can start doing that again."

Manager Joe Maddon said Cobb could be available out of the bullpen Sunday against Toronto in the Rays' final game before the break.

MEDICAL MATTERS: Yunel Escobar (shoulder) made his first rehab start at shortstop Tuesday night at Class A Charlotte (after a rainout Monday in the Gulf Coast League). Facing two-time All-Star RHP Brad Penny, Escobar finished 1-for-4 and scored a run.

Maddon said OF David DeJesus (hand) is getting closer and could return early next month, while RF Wil Myers (wrist) could be back by mid August to give a jolt to a team still trying to become a factor in September.

RAMOS RETURNS: LHP Cesar Ramos was back with the team Tuesday three days after his wife, Melanie, gave birth to their first child, Addison Lynn.

"It's awesome," Ramos said. "You always look forward to that day. Now it's here. It's kind of hard to explain the emotions that we went through."

Ramos slept in a fold-out chair in the hospital but said he has been lucky with the sleep patterns of his baby girl, who usually rests for about three or four hours at a time.

Ramos also had some advice for fellow LHP Jake McGee, whose wife is scheduled to have labor induced late today to give birth on the Rays' off day.

"If he has the opportunity to deliver, definitely, definitely be a part of that," Ramos said. "It's definitely a special moment that you just can't ever take away."

Minor matters: RHP prospect Ryne Stanek made his Florida State League debut for the Stone Crabs on Tuesday night. The Rays' 2013 first-round pick gave up one run on four hits and a walk in six innings.

MISCELLANY: 3B Evan Longoria's two-run single was the 911th hit of his career, moving him past B.J. Upton for the third-most in club history. … This was McGee's second career save of more than one inning and he has stranded 24 of 27 runners inherited this season. … The Rays carried a 17-inning scoreless drought before their two-run sixth. They're 5-36 when being outhit by opponents, as they were Tuesday. … Maddon plans to spend his All-Star break exploring Florida's Atlantic coast in his RV. … RHP Chris Archer was part of a group that donated more than $29,000 in new recreation equipment to 28 Tampa Parks & Recreation Department sites.

Rays' Alex Cobb trying to find his groove 07/08/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 12:20am]

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