The expectations for Alex Cobb were probably a bit too high, not that one start means anything over a full season. All offseason Cobb garnered the most praise, for both his stellar 2013 and 2014 spring performances. "He could be the opening day starter for a lot of teams", Joe Maddon said. While that's certainly still the case, he didn't pitch it like tonight.
The damage was done in the first inning. With two out and two on, after a single to Melky Cabrera and walk to Jose Bautista, Cobb hung a changeup to the well goateed and unusually eyebrow-less Adam Lind, who belted it over the wall in straightaway centerfield. As Tommy Rancel of The Process Report and I discussed as it happened, it was reminiscent of a James Shields performance in a loss, one errant pitch cost him the game. Cobb responded decently, allowing one run over the next four innings. Unfortunately the 25 pitch first inning took it's toll, limiting him to just five frames. Despite his struggles, Cobb maintained a healthy 9-4 groundball to flyball ratio. The one flyball happened to suck the air out of the stadium.
Offensively the Rays couldn't get much going against Drew Hutchison, who was making his first appearance since 2012, waffling like a pretty girl trying to make plans on a Friday night. The young right-hander allowed just three hits on 83 pitches in his 5.1 innnings of work. The Rays had scoring opportunities in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings but came away empty, going 0-6 with men in scoring position in the process. They picked up a run in the eighth inning after a Wil Myers double, but were unable to get the crucial hit they needed in the ninth as Yunel Escobar struck out looking with men on second and third and two out.
On the bright side, Wil Myers and Desmond Jennings each doubled for the second straight game and Heath Bell looked excellent in his Rays' debut. The addition of Ryan Hanigan was seen immediately as his pitch framing ability helped change a few balls into called strikes. Logan Forsythe had a significantly worse Rays debut, going 0-4 with four left on base after being forced into DH duty due to the DeJesus injury.