Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Cobb brilliant as tired Rays beat Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG — When Alex Cobb woke up Saturday and checked his phone to see how Friday night's marathon turned out, he was thrilled to learn his Rays prevailed but confused to see Jeremy Hellickson's photo as the winning pitcher.

"Couldn't figure that one out," Cobb said.

Once he got more details — that the Rays used a major-league record-tying 11 pitchers, including Hellickson, who was to start today, to get through the 18 innings — Cobb knew exactly what he had to do in Saturday's matinee: pitch well and deep into the game.

Cobb accomplished both in dominating fashion, taking a shutout into the ninth and, with some help from Desmond Jennings, leading the Rays to a 5-1 victory that kept them atop the American League wild-card race heading into the season's final week.

"He was fantastic," manager Joe Maddon said. "We needed it. There's no question."

The Rays (85-69) won their seventh in their past 10 games and maintained their half-game lead over the Indians and one-game edge on the Rangers. They are 3½ ahead of the Yankees and four ahead of the Royals and Orioles.

Maddon, once again, is hoping, begging, pleading that the latest success — including two wins in about 14 hours — provides the elusive impetus and momentum to get the Rays on a hot streak that carries them into the playoffs.

"They've been really difficult wins against really good baseball teams," he said. "That in and of itself should pick up your overall confidence a bit, I would hope. But then again you always have to be careful when things are going well because that's when you do have a tendency to let down, and we can't do that. … We've used all our mulligans."

Cobb actually did not start well, a bit "over-amped" as Maddon calls it and admittedly putting too much pressure on himself, walking two of the first four batters. "Tried to make too good of pitches," Cobb said. "Too fine."

But once he settled down he settled in, and the Orioles didn't have much of a chance, especially with crisp defense behind him. Cobb retired 12 straight and didn't allow a hit until two outs in the fifth, only three total with two outs to go when leftfielder David DeJesus lost a ball in the roof, resulting in a triple. After an ensuing RBI single Maddon summoned closer Fernando Rodney.

Still, it was an impressive and important performance — five hits, 12 strikeouts, two walks — by Cobb, earning a roaring ovation from the lively Tropicana Field crowd of 23,835.

"He was unbelievable," Jennings said. "I could kind of see around the third or fourth inning where the game was going with him. He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes whenever he wanted to and you could see his confidence is through the roof."

Said Baltimore's Adam Jones: "Cobb was dealing. … I don't like giving pitchers credit, but you've got to give that man some credit. He did what he wanted to do."

The Rays didn't do much with some early opportunities against Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, but Jennings addressed that in the fifth. After walks to Jose Molina and Yunel Escobar and a flyout, Jennings turned on a full-count fastball and knocked it into the leftfield seats, his career-high 14th homer of the season. He later tripled in another run and scored.

After a rough couple of weeks making several costly defensive mistakes and struggling at the plate, Jennings — buoyed by a confidence-building speech from Maddon — has played a major role in the past three wins: He had a walkoff single Wednesday, doubled and scored the winning run Friday, got the big hits Saturday.

"I was in the middle of every big loss for a while," Jennings said. "So it feels good to be on the other side, and it's good for our team."

At this point, they'll take everything.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

Comments
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

Tonight's Rays lineup against the Twins. Brad Miller back in the lineup following his DL stint (left groin strain). First pitch at 7:10 p.m.LF Denard SpanDH C.J. CronRF Carlos Gomez1B Brad Miller3B Daniel Robertson2B Joey WendleC Wilson RamosCF Malle...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

The Rays activated INF Brad Miller off the DL for Friday's game.Miller had been out 11 days due to a groin strain.To make room on the roster, they DFA'd INF/OF Brandon Snyder, who was called up on Tuesday.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Wall Street Journal: Baseball in Florida ‘has been a disaster’

Wall Street Journal: Baseball in Florida ‘has been a disaster’

The Rays and Miami Marlins "are at a moment of reckoning" after histories of low attendance and an offseason in which they sold off many of their top players and were singled out by the MLB Players Association for failing to spend revenue-sharing mon...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays’ Chris Archer ready to move past messy outing tonight against Twins

Rays’ Chris Archer ready to move past messy outing tonight against Twins

Rays RHP Chris Archer goes into tonight's start against the Twins with no trouble moving on from his messy Saturday performance against the Phillies that included arguably the worst inning of his career."It's already gone," Archer said Wednesday...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Memorable off day for Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough

Memorable off day for Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough

Rays rookie LHP Ryan Yarbrough has enjoyed everything about his first major-league experience, from pitching in the games to traveling in top-notch style to getting to play in front of family and friends to seeing his first paycheck.And then the Lake...
Updated: 12 hours ago
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

ST. PETERSBURG — In the end, Alex Colome got the three outs to save the game, the day and the stomach linings of his bosses from further deterioration, so in theory that should be what mattered most Wednesday.And the fact that he was smiling in...
Published: 04/18/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Alex Colome's ninth-inning dramatics took the focus, but the work of newly corn-rowed RHP Chaz Roe in the seventh (three Ks) and LHP Jose Alvarado (one K, two infield outs) was textbook, and showed how the bullpen can work.RELATED: Whew. Alex Colome ...
Published: 04/18/18
Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

ST. PETERSBURG — Even before they lost several of the hitters they were relying most on to injuries, the Rays did not exactly have a lineup built on intimidation.Their own owner said opening day that he expected them to rank among the least pro...
Published: 04/18/18