BOSTON — RHP Alex Cobb was having some problems pitching Sunday. His command wasn't sharp, the dry air made it tough to grip the ball and the umpire wasn't giving him the high strike.
And then his day got worse in the third inning when Will Middlebrooks hit a grounder right back at him. Down 2-0 and with the bases again loaded, he could have limited the damage, with at least an easy home-to-first double play.
But Cobb bobbled the ball, rushing — and based on replays perhaps fortunate — to get just one out, which hurt when the Rays messed up the next play as well, another potential double play thwarted by SS Yunel Escobar's errant throw, doubling the Red Sox lead to 4-0.
"I think I just tried to be too quick," Cobb said. "That's exactly what I was looking for in that situation, a ball on the ground, turn two. Usually I'm pretty confident fielding my position, but I tried to be too quick, which I shouldn't have."
Given the conditions (he even poured water on his hair to try to get some moisture on the mound) and circumstance with his teammates no-hit into the seventh, Cobb salvaged a decent outing, working into the seventh and drawing praise from manager Joe Maddon for showing maturity.
"I think in years past I might have let things get away a little bit, caved in under the pressure," Cobb said. "This year I took the pressure head on, told myself not to let this happen, those games that happened in the past not to happen. It definitely made me angry. It made me more aggressive, and it probably helped a little bit."
Cobb joked that he may have brought Sunday's result on himself. When the Rays were no-hit into the ninth in a spring training game vs. the Red Sox, he cracked that it was no big deal because they were used to it happening to them every year.
"I thought about that during the game," he said. "This is payback right now. I was joking then."
I AM THIRD: Maddon departed from his planned alignment against right-handed starters and moved 3B Evan Longoria from cleanup to the third spot, and Ben Zobrist up to second.
His theory was that since they weren't getting runners on base ahead of Longoria, he would try it in circular fashion, hoping that having Kelly Johnson hitting eighth and Sam Fuld ninth would lead to more opportunities. Maddon said it was similar to Tony La Russa batting the pitcher eighth in the Cardinals lineup and keeping Albert Pujols third.
Longoria's ninth-inning single extended his streak of reaching base to all 11 games this season, and 25 straight.
NO BUNTING ZONE: Maddon said he had no morning-after regrets about not bunting in any of the key situations in Saturday's game. "No, no, no," he said. "Bunting does not ensure anything. That's the misconception with that. The one thing that it can mean more than anything is that you're giving up an out."
MAKEUP TALK: There was discussion about making up Friday's rainout on a June 17 mutual off day with the Red Sox, but player rep LHP Matt Moore said the consensus in an informal poll was to preserve the day off and play a day-night doubleheader June 18.
MISCELLANY: 1B James Loney stole his first base since Sept. 24, 2011. … DH Luke Scott (stomach problems) returned to the hotel after a light early morning workout, further delaying the progression of his rehab from a calf strain. … The Rays all will wear No. 42 today in Boston and Tuesday in Baltimore as part of the MLB-wide celebration of Jackie Robinson day.