The Rays Tank: Alex Cobb, home runs key in victory versus Orioles

USA TODAY Sports

Alex Cobb ended years of spring training frustration with a huge performance versus the division rival Baltimore Orioles.

Hi everyone. I'm Robbie Knopf and I'm exciting to join the DRaysBay staff beginning today. You may know me from my writing at Rays Colored Glasses, but in any event, let's get to what we all care about: the latest news regarding the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays took on the Orioles in their latest spring training matchup on Saturday at home in Port Charlotte, and the results turned out to be quite good, especially for starter Alex Cobb. Despite giving the Rays some really nice regular season performance the past two years (3.86 ERA, 3.65 FIP in 189 IP), Cobb has never been a great spring training pitcher. His most notable prior spring feat was managing a 4-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in two appearances in 2012, when he went from competing for a Rays rotation spot to minor league camp much quicker than anyone would have thought.

But on Saturday, Cobb finally found some mostly-meaningless spring training magic as he blanked the Orioles for three shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five while getting his outing four outs on the ground. It's great to see Cobb pitching like we know he can even with the games meaning little. Even if Cobb is the least exciting member of what looks to be another great Rays rotation, we can't forget that he has the ability to go out and overpower hitters on any given night just like everyone else.

Behind Cobb, the only other major league pitcher the Rays sent to the mound was Fernando Rodney, who worked a perfect inning including one strikeout. One other pitcher who impressed was lefty Alex Torres, who worked two innings allowing two hits and striking out two as he looks to get his career back on track after a disastrous 2012 at Triple-A Durham.

On the offensive side, Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar each went 2 for 3, with Zobrist playing in one of his final tuneup games before the World Baseball Classic and Escobar hitting the first of three home runs by Rays middle infielders. Ryan Roberts and Sean Rodriguez hit the other two. The Rays won the game 4-1 and between the strong performance by Cobb on the pitchers and those few offensive highlights, it would up being quite a satisfying game.

You can find more personal observations about player performances in this FanPost by Hatfield.

Now to the links:

  • The World Baseball Classic got underway began last night, with Brazil playing twice and losing to Japan and then Cuba. Rays prospect Leonardo Reginatto was huge for the Brazilians despite never playing above Short Season-A, going 4 for 7 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored.
  • Jack Moore of FanGraphs wrote about how extra innings in the WBC will begin with runners on 1st and 2nd in an effort to end games more quickly. Can't love the break from tradition, but MLB teams not wanting their pitchers to be overexerted have to be smiling just a little bit.
  • MLBPA Boss Michael Weiner confirmed what we already know once again: contraction isn't happening.
  • Per the Rays' official site, the Rays have agreed to contracts with all their pre-arbitration players and sent pitchers Matt Nevarez, Jim Paduch, Jimmy Patterson, and Neil Schenk to minor league camp.
  • And finally, ex-Rays prospect Phil Wunderlich signed with the Independent River City Rascals per the @RaysProspects Twitter feed. At one point, Wunderlich looked like the best among the slim pickings the Rays had in terms of first base prospects, and good luck to him trying to continue his career and get back into affiliated ball.
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