Even on nights they lose the Rays manage to do something cool. It doesn't take the sting out of the loss, but Alex Cobb did something tonight that hadn't been done in 14 years; He threw a complete game while allowing eight earned runs. The last pitcher to do it was Randy Johnson in 1998. Usually it's a compliment to be mentioned in the same sentence as Johnson. Tonight, not so much.
The closest any (Devil) Rays pitcher had come was six earned runs. That's been done three times, the last by James Shields in 2008. Usually you don't see a starter get left in the game eight innings while allowing eight runs, but because the Rays had used a lot of their bullpen to get through yesterday's game Cobb was on an island.
As for Cobb's performance, there aren't many positives to take away. He didn't walk anyone, but he also only struck out one batter. He gave up only four extra base hits (and two of them should have been caught), but allowed 13 hits total. The Royals didn't hit him hard, they just...hit him. It was single after single. He didn't have great command of his fastball, recording strikes with it ~66% of the time. He was still throwing his excellent changeup for strikes (70%) but generated just one swinging strike with it. Too many pitches were left over the plate and the Royals took advantage.
The Royals got on the board in the first inning thanks to doubles by Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas, the two extra base hits I mentioned previously that should have been caught. Gordon's ball seemed to stay in the air forever, landing just in front of a confused looking Zobrist. Moustakas' ball bounced off Zobrist's glove as he was running straight back to grab it after getting a late jump. Normally an excellent fielder, Zobrist seemed to get caught up with the sun in right field. Whatever the reason at least one, if not both, of those balls should have been caught.
The weird play/poor defense continued the following inning. After a bunt single and another single to left put Alcides Escobar and Gordon on first and second, Cobb threw a low changeup that got away from (and frankly should have been stopped) by Jose Molina. The ball didn't roll fall, coming to rest behind the hell of the umpire. In the franticness of Molina searching for the ball the umpire tried to get out of his way, accidentally kicking the ball backwards with his heel, allowing both runners to advance. They would both come in to score on a single by Yuni Betancourt.
One run would have been enough for the Royals tonight. Luke Hochevar threw the game of his life with his eight strikeout, no walk shutout. The Rays had men in scoring position in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings but couldn't capitalize. The only player with multiple hits was Elliot Johnson, who also stole two bases.
- Brooks Conrad added another hit and made a nice diving stop and throw to steal a hit from Jeff Francouer in the fifth, but then made a throwing error the very next batter. That sums up the Rays defensive season thus far.
- With Luke Scott looking good today in Durham I can't imagine Hideki Matsui is long for this roster.