The Rays wrapped up their road trip Sunday, besting the Rockies 8-3 to finish the trip with a record of 4-5. Alex Cobb recovered nicely from his previous start in Kansas City, throwing 6.2 innings and giving up just three solo home runs to take the victory.
In his previous start he cruised through 5.2 innings but things fell apart quickly after that. Today he maintained composure all game, striking out six and walking just one. Not walking anyone is always important, but it's especially so when you're playing in Colorado. He mixed his pitches very well, throwing 51 fastballs, 31 changeups and 25 curveballs. The curve seemed to be his best pitch as it registered the highest strike percentage and accounted for the most, and highest percentage of whiffs.
Cobb faced his toughest challenge in the fifth inning with the Rays leading 3-2. With men on first and second and just one out Troy Tulowitzki, always a threat for an extra base hit, and having homered the previous inning, came to the plate. I was interested in watching how Cobb would attack him but the at bat lasted just one pitch as Tulowitzki swung at a curveball, grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. All told Cobb recorded 10 groundouts to just two flyball outs, upping his GB% to an even 50% for the season.
It's amazing how easy this game is when you get hits with runners in scoring position. The Rays scored all their runs that way, going 5-11 without a home run. The middle of the lineup, sans Ben Zobrist, did all of the damage. James Loney, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Roberts, and Jose Lobaton went a combined 8-16 with seven RBI. Loney racked up three hits again, boosting him to an AL leading seven games with three or more hits. He's on an amazing run at the moment. On April 16th he was hitting .167/.265/.233. Over the next 17 games he's raised that line to .398/.444/.542. Johnson has been a nice addition as well, posting a .331 wOBA and 112 wRC+ in 94 plate appearances. He's already surpassed his WAR total from all of last season.
The Rays return home to face two struggling teams, the Blue Jays and Padres, before ending the home stand with the first place Red Sox. Picking up two series victories before the Sox come into town would go a long way to improving their standing in the division.