RHP Alex Cobb used two words to describe the first half of his season: A battle.
The changeup, Cobb's best pitch, was nowhere to be found earlier in the season. It was a casualty of the Tommy John surgery that cost him nearly most of the last two seasons.
That forced Cobb, who faces the Red Sox this afternoon, to lean on his fastball and curveball more than he would like. The results were mixed.
"The thing I really got tired of hearing the most was 'Way to grind it out out there.' I remember telling somebody I'm sick of grinding. I just want to have some nice comfortable one-two-three innings and turn that into a quality outing, but you do what you have to do when you're not dealing with your best stuff," Cobb said. "Hopefully I'll look back and be proud of the first half and the second half will be much better."
The changeup gradually returned. He can throw it as well as he did pre-surgery. Because of that, Cobb wants to hit the reset button on his season beginning with this afternoon's start, his last before the All-Star Break.
He said he would like to wipe the slate clean and use a new approach in the second half. That includes commanding all three of his pitches.
The upside to his first half was Cobb did learn to grind through outings when he didn't have his best stuff. He's 6-6 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts, and at times he looked like the old Cobb.
When asked if having to grind made him a better pitcher, Cobb said, "I think everything you go through is hopefully going to make you grow and mature as a pitcher. I look at it more as something I had to do to evolve as a pitcher and be able to get outs during this time. I look forward to being able to get back to the pitcher I remember being. I fully expect to be there soon."
NOTES FRM FRIDAY'S 8-3 loss:
-- RF Steven Souza Jr., tied his career-high with his 17th home run of the season, a monster of a blast that hit the batter's eye in centerfield, some 442 feet from home plate.
-- 2B Brad Miller returned from the disabled list and reach base in all four plate appearances.
-- RHP Jake Odorizzi has allowed 20 home runs, tying Drew Smyly (2016) and Esteban Yan (2000) for the most in club history before the All-Star Break.
-- The Rays need to win one of the final two games of this series to clinch a winning record at the All-star Break for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons.