Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays journal: Alex Cobb adjusting to life without his changeup

NEW YORK — Rays RHP Alex Cobb can be a tad stubborn, so it's no surprise that when he was told that the changeup is the last pitch to come back after recovery from Tommy John surgery, he thought it would be different for him.

But that has proven to be the case, which has caused Cobb to make a fundamental change in his repertoire, throwing his curveball more frequently and in more pressing situations. On Monday he threw it 43 times, and his changeup only 10, in 102 pitches.

"Get in those situations where I need that swing and miss, and that's my best offspeed pitch right now," he said. "You kind of learn to go with whatever the hot hand is that day. My whole career I've been changeup dominant and going to that when needing swing and misses and strikeouts.

"So I just have to relearn how to pitch a little bit using the curveball. It's a great pitch. But I can't wait for all three of them to be here."

The reason the changeup takes longer, he said, isn't as much the physics of the delivery as regaining the feel.

So two guys ran into each other in the outfield

More concerning than being perfect-gamed was the scare the Rays had in the first inning when Gold Glove-winning CF Kevin Kiermaier caught a fly ball then collided with LF Mallex Smith, who should have given way but is a centerfielder by trade. "They've still got to get kind of familiar with each other," manager Kevin Cash said. "Mallex covers a lot of ground out there, and he probably hasn't played with many guys like KK. It'll take some learning. Let's hope they learn quick. We don't need to see anybody hurt in a collision."

Smith had a tough day overall, crashing into the leftfield wall trying to catch a blast from Chris Carter that caromed for a triple and going 0-for-3. RF Steven Souza Jr. crashed full-body into the rightfield wall later in the inning: "What didn't I hit is the better question."

Quote of the day

"I noticed it when I ran out there and I was the only one out there for God Bless America."

Rays RHP Alex Cobb, on realizing he had pitched into the eighth.

If the shoe fits

LHP Blake Snell has plenty of time to get focused on Wednesday's start. Today he is planning to take advantage of New York's shopping opportunities to add to his collection of 250 pairs of shoes. "I have one side of my suitcase (open) … so I'm excited for whatever will jump out at me," he said. "It really has to hit me, and if I like it, I'm going to get it. I'm going to go over my scouting report."

Medical matters

. OF Colby Rasmus (hip, core muscle surgery) isn't expected to resume his rehab with the Class A Stone Crabs for another few days, which means he likely won't be activated until the Rays return home next week. Rasmus wants to make sure there are no issues from the outfield collision with Ryan Boldt in his first game on Thursday.

. RHP Jake Odorizzi had a ball mark on his left leg the day after being hit by a line drive but no concerns about it impacting his start Saturday in Boston. "It feels like a bruise," he said. "I don't think it'll be a big issue."

Number of the day

5 Times Rays have been no-hit, including three perfect games.

Miscellany

. This was the third time the Rays were guests for the Yankees' home opener; they also lost in 2002 and 2007.

. Team USA GM Joe Torre and coaches Tino Martinez and Willie Randolph — all #Yankees legends — threw out the ceremonial first pitches in honor of the World Baseball Classic gold medal. I guess it would have been weird to have Rays RHP Chris Archer join them?

. Manager Kevin Cash said he remains confident in rookie RHP Austin Pruitt who, without much help from his defense, allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and has a 19.29 ERA.

Comments
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Updated: 6 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Times sports columnist Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to discuss Kevin Kiermaier's return to the Rays, whether Victor Hedman should win the Norris Trophy for the NHL's best defenseman, Bucs expectations for this season and Barry Trotz's next c...
Published: 06/20/18
How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

There was some interesting inside baseball elements that factored into the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 Rays win.* First, on Matt Duffy's double off reliever Hector Rondon to lead off the eighth.Duffy said he doesn't like "to guess" what a pitcher i...
Published: 06/20/18
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

This is how odd LHP Blake Snell's night was — he became the first pitcher to work seven or more innings and walk at least seven since Edwin Jackson threw his 149-pitch, eight-walk no-hitter at the Rays on June 25, 2010.If you weren't aware of t...
Published: 06/19/18
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 6:45: Cash said Smith will continue to play a lot, getting time in LF and RF, meaning something of a rotation system for rookie Johnny Field and veteran Carlos Gomez.UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, w...
Published: 06/19/18