My brain is currently feeling a little bit fried, so let's keep this simple. Bullet points!
- Alex Cobb was masterful tonight. He pitched one of the best games of his career, nearly lasting for a complete game (8.1 innings) while holding the Yankees to a mere four baserunners (three hits, one walk). He kept the Yankees off the board entirely, striking out seven and generating swinging strikes on eight percent of his pitches. To nobody's surprise, almost all of those swinging strikes came off his changeup.
In his post-game interview, Cobb credited a lot of his success tonight to his ability to locate his fastball where he wanted. He was all over the zone tonight with his pitches -- in, out, up, and down -- and four of his strikeouts came on fastballs where he caught the hitter looking. For a pitcher with a fastball that tops out at 92 MPH, that's not too shabby.
So four starts and 29 innings into the season, and Alex Cobb is looking like quite the ace with a 1.82 ERA and a 2.78 FIP. He will obviously regress at some point, but for now....Shields? Who needs 'im?
- Andy Pettitte was also cruising through today's game -- 10 strikeouts on the day -- but he made a handful of mistakes that ended up leading to his downfall. In the bottom of the fifth inning, he just nicked Jose Molina on the foot with a pitch, and then Kelly Johnson hit a liner to right field. It should have been a single, but the ball slipped under Brennan Boesch's glove and went all the way to the wall. Molina and Johnson advanced to second and third, where they were driven in later on that inning by a double from Ben Zobrist. In the next inning, the Rays added on another run when Sean Rodriguez hit a lead-off homer.
Both of those key hits -- Zobrist's double and S-Rod's home run -- came off what appeared to be backdoor cutters that got too much of the plate. Pettitte was dealing all night and struck out many Rays with that backdoor cutter on the outside of the plate, but that pitch definitely backfired in these two instances.
- Both Desmond Jennings and Ryan Roberts earned the illustrious Golden Sombreros by striking out three times each. Roberts came into the game swinging a hot bat, but Pettitte caught him looking at pitches a few times (at least one of those times, it was the backdoor cutter that got him).
- The Rays' defense was on full display tonight. Sean Rodriguez made a number of great scoops and snags at first base, looking like a real natural at the position (as opposed to someone playing it for the first time this season), and James Loney made a great stop on one absolutely scorched groundball.
- So...Sean Rodriguez. After going two for three tonight with a home run, he's beginning to make me look wrong about him...and I couldn't be happier. Here's hoping he keeps hitting as well as he is right now, and that his power returns against lefties, and that he maintains some of this plate discipline improvement going forward.
- Again, Rodney was a little bit shaky before finally bearing down and closing out the final two outs. He's moved back to the first-base side of the rubber, though, and his stuff is obviously still there; his location has just been way off. Fingers crossed that he gets that fixed sooner rather than later.
Rays just went 6-3 over last 9 gms vs. 3 playoff teams from 2012 (Bal, Oak, NYY) and 5-1 on the homestand vs. 2 defending division champs.— Dave Haller (@HallerDave) April 25, 2013
Coming into series vs Rays, NYY ranked 2nd in AL scoring at 5.18 runs per game--they only scored 5 runs over the entire 3-game series vs TB.— Jonathan Gantt (@Jonathan_Gantt) April 25, 2013