Rays' Alex Cobb excelling since mechanical tweak

Alex Cobb strikes out 12, one shy of his career best, in eight innings.
Alex Cobb strikes out 12, one shy of his career best, in eight innings.
Published July 30, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — After watching his pitches veer to the sides instead of tailing down, RHP Alex Cobb finally found his mechanical flaw.

He corrected it before pitching seven shutout innings against St. Louis last week, and he repeated it Tuesday, allowing only three hits and one run in his eight innings against the Brewers.

"When you're on one plane and you're in the zone, it's game over," Cobb said after his second straight double-digit strikeout performance.

Cobb hasn't given many specifics, but the tweak has resulted in more strikeouts and ground balls. He had seven groundouts Tuesday and only two flyouts while retiring Milwaukee's first 10 batters.

Facing an aggressive Brewers lineup, Cobb utilized his sinking changeup to get a season-high 12 strikeouts — one shy of his career best. He even picked off slugger Ryan Braun after issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh.

"That's when things are just going your way that day," Cobb said.

Price check: In the midst of rampant trade speculation, LHP David Price has worked eight innings in eight of his past nine starts.

"I would hope that people understand and realize,'' manager Joe Maddon said, ''what a difference that makes to a team … "

Price enters his latest, possibly last scheduled start at Tropicana Field with a majors-leading nine double-digit strikeout games and 12 outings of at least eight innings.

Price doesn't expect to change his approach today, even though he's facing an NL Central-leading team he has faced only once before and will go up against a lineup with three .300 hitters.

"I'm going to go out there and throw as many strikes as I can and attack the zone," Price said.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Wil Myers (wrist) plans to figure out the timetable for his return Friday, the day before he takes batting practice for the first time since he went on the DL in late May. The Rays have said he could return in mid August.

OF David DeJesus is no longer wearing a brace to cover his left hand. He's working on strengthening it before taking swings again. C Ryan Hanigan (left oblique) felt sore after taking a second straight day of batting practice and isn't expected to make a rehab assignment for advanced Class A Charlotte today.

Escobar Ejected: SS Yunel Escobar was ejected after the first strike in the eighth inning for arguing in both English and Spanish. He slammed his helmet after his third ejection of the year — and his second in the past week. Maddon said he appreciates Escobar's emotion but didn't like the timing.

Miscellany: INF Ben Zobrist's eighth-inning double was the 215th of his career, tying Carl Crawford for second in club history, two behind 3B Evan Longoria. … RHP Grant Balfour had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning.

Contact Matt Baker at Follow @MBakerTBTimes.