Alex Cobb Dominates Royals, Rays Win 5-0

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 24: Starting pitcher Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during the 1st inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals on July 24, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Today's 5-0 shutout victory over the Royals gave fans a little glimpse of what the future of this franchise holds in store. Desmond Jennings, Alex Cobb, and Jake McGee all contributed to the win with the former two players playing large roles.

You really couldn't ask for a better start for Desmond Jennings. We've been anticipating his arrival all season and he hasn't disappointed. After a debut 2-3, two extra base hits, two walks and a steal performance, Jennings put up nearly identical numbers in his second, going 2-5, with a double, steal and two hit by pitch. I almost added another double to his tally today because he virtually created one out of a single and a stolen base. Between Triple A and the Majors he's only been caught one time this season. He's as exciting of a player as the Rays have ever called up. Perhaps David Price at the end of 2008 would eclipse Jennings, but that's probably it. It's only been two games against the last place Royals, but he's been able to showcase all of the tools that have made him the team's top prospect. Unless he really struggles from here on out I'd like to see the Rays keep him in the lead-off spot.

With Desmond Jennings helping to get the Rays offense going, Alex Cobb helped shut down the Royals. The rookie went seven innings, allowed no runs and only threw 85 pitches. He only recorded two strikeouts, but had an amazing 65% ground ball rate. His ground ball percentage was over 50% coming into this game, so that shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. The only real trouble he faced came in the 6th and 7th innings when the Royals put men on first and second with no outs in both frames. Each time Cobb was easily able to wiggle his way out of danger. His changeup was, as usual, his best pitch. He threw it 18 times for an 89.5 percent strike rate. Coming into the game Cobb had a 3.55 FIP/4.08 xFIP. Today's start those numbers were 2.40/3.24. Not bad for a kid with seven career starts.

Jake McGee was called upon to pitch the ninth and allowed one hit before finishing the game. He's looked much better in his second stint with the team. His fastball velocity averaged just 92.7 mph from opening day to his demotion on April 29th. Since being recalled on July 15th it's averaged upwards of 95 mph. He's also been smarter in the use of his slider this time around. If he can keep up that success with those two pitches he should prove to be a vital part of the 2012 Rays bullpen.

Other notes:

  • Ben Zobrist is really, really good. He now leads in the AL in doubles.
  • You likely won't see a stranger sequence of at bats than you did in the top of the sixth inning. In a span of five batters Royals pitching gave up a single, HBP, HBP, walk, HBP to help the Rays score two runs. That's hard to do.
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