CINCINNATI — On Friday, Rays manager Joe Maddon made several moves to give LHP David Price every chance to finish a 2-0 game even though he was over 100 pitches after eight innings.
But Saturday, Maddon removed RHP Alex Cobb after seven innings even though he was extremely sharp and hadn't gotten to 90 pitches.
Why the difference? Maddon said he had several reasons.
One was the score, as he said he felt more of a need to tag on a run in having Logan Forsythe pinch-hit for Cobb to open the eighth. (And it almost worked as Forsythe doubled.)
Another was the difference in pitchers.
"I just have a greater comfort zone with David throwing more pitches right now than I have Cobber, based on experience," Maddon said. "That's just what I think I've learned the last couple years. I'm not afraid to take the wraps off Cobber, but when he does seven strong like that early in this part of the year, with him I thought it's best to leave him there."
There was another reason, it turns out. Cobb was feeling tightness on his left side, stretching noticeably at times to try to get loose, and Maddon didn't want to chance having him swing the bat again. Cobb said it wasn't a big deal and no concern for his next start.
Cobb, on a streak of 15⅓ scoreless innings, said he had no problem with the decision, realizing the National League rules played heavily into it. "It's frustrating because if it was an American League game, I probably could have tried to go the distance," he said.
GLOVE STORY: The Rays played one of their best overall defensive games in years, with dazzling contributions from 3B Evan Longoria, 1B James Loney, rookie CF Kevin Kiermaier and C Ryan Hanigan (blocking pitches and throwing out a runner). "Plays all over the place," Maddon said. "It was really a fabulous game."
CESAR'S DAY: LHP Cesar Ramos is "definitely excited" about making his first start since June 2012 (and second since 2009) today in replacing injured Matt Moore in the rotation.
One difference from his usual relief role is that Ramos said he will incorporate a full repertoire of pitches, mixing in sliders, changeups and the occasional curveball. "When you start, you're able to pitch," he said. "It's definitely chess over 100 pitches instead of penalty kicks and you've got to score now."
Ramos hasn't worked more than 1⅔ innings or thrown more than 23 pitches in a game since March 20, but Maddon said he is looking for 75 pitches and four-five innings.
BEDARD'S BACK: LHP Erik Bedard was called up, though to work in a bullpen role rather than to start. Bedard, 35, said that when he didn't win a rotation spot during the spring and couldn't find a big-league job elsewhere, he decided to sign back with the Rays based on the situation. "My gut feeling was to come here," he said. "I love the guys, the front office, the coaches, all that. I felt comfortable here."
MYERS OUT: Maddon said his primary motivation was playing lefty swingers David DeJesus and Kiermaier, but sitting down Wil Myers — hitting .231 with seven singles and two doubles — wasn't a bad idea. "He hasn't gotten the ball in the air a whole lot, that's the biggest thing," Maddon said, noting Myers is chasing pitches and "just conceding to the pitcher."
MISCELLANY: RHP Joel Peralta was not available, and not even in the bullpen, because he was ill, Maddon said. … Hanigan, a longtime Red, was given a loud ovation before his first at-bat: "Very warm reception, a lot of signs, all that stuff's cool," he said. "I appreciate the fans here. They got a lot of love for me and I do for them, as well." … RHP Grant Balfour had a much less adventurous ninth than Friday's walk-the-bases-loaded thriller, getting one out, walking one, getting a double play.