There aren't any "need to win" games in August, but with how poorly the Rays had been playing coupled with a Red Sox loss, it was important to take the series and send Seattle packing. The Rays were able to do just that behind an explosive offense and, more importantly, the return of Alex Cobb.
Cobb, out since June 15th after being struck in the head by a line drive, pitched well in his five innings of work. His victory was the first for a Rays starting pitcher since Roberto Hernandez on July 30th. He looked to be every bit the pitcher he was before the injury, using his changeup and curveball to great success. All six of his strikeouts were of the swinging variety, and five came on breaking off-speed pitches. His only blemish came in the second inning when Raul Ibanez took a 3-1 fastball deep to right field. Cobb got himself into a jam in the fifth with the score tied at one.
After retiring Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders quite easily Dustin Ackley smacked a ground-rule double to left field then promptly walked the next two batters to load the bases. Luckily for Cobb Nick Franklin was up, who had struck out swinging in his first two at bats. With the count full Cobb went back to his bread and butter, the changeup, to strike Franklin out once more, preserving the tie.
That would end Cobb's night even though he had thrown just 88 pitches. For his first start in two months, that was more than a job well done.
Even if Cobb had allowed a few more runs to score, the Rays offense was ready and able to help tonight. It's not hard to win most games when your top three hitters are a combined 7-14 with two doubles, a home run, and six runs batted in. Wil Myers broke the game open in the fifth inning by lacing a two-run double down the left field line. On the very next pitch Evan Longoria smashed a hanging curveball to deep left field. Myers would add another run scoring double in the eighth, pushing his season line to .326/.379/.525. He's 22-years-old.
The bullpen was great once again as Torres and the Wright brothers combined to throw four innings of two hit ball. With Boston's loss the Rays are once again just two games back of the division lead.