They say baseball is a great game because anytime you go to the ballpark there's a chance you'll see something that's never happened before. Tonight we got just that.
Alex Cobb doesn't strike many guys out. He's not on a Wade Davis level, but he's not Justin Verlander either.. His career K/9 is 6.86. In his start against the Padres it was 25.07. That's not a typo. He faced 23 batters, struck out 13 and got another two to ground out. Let's take a look at some amazing feats he accomplished tonight.
-He got as many outs on balls in play as Jake McGee did in his one inning of work.
-He became the first pitcher in MLB history to strike out 13 while working less than five innings.
-He became the first pitcher in at least 100 years to face four batters in an inning, strikeout all four and still allow a run.
-Struck out 56.5% of the batters he faced.
-Induced 23 swinging strikes...21 on the changeup. In fact, he threw only 42 changeups, meaning ~43% were swung at and missed.
Take a look at the strikezone plot of his at bat results:
Cobb's outing broke the Rays streak of a starting pitcher working at least five innings. They'd done so in 34 consecutive games, the second longest streak to start a season since 1916. He wasn't able to finish five innings thanks to throwing 117 pitches -- 33 in the first.
The Rays offense stayed on it's torrid pace, plating six runs and collecting eight hits. In their last 22 games, the Rays lead MLB with 124 runs scored while hitting .282/.349/.469. Runs were hard to come by in the first six innings as they scored only two runs on three hits thanks to a few walks and a wild pitch. Then in the seventh inning with the team down by one the offense came alive.
With the bases loaded and no outs Ryan Roberts smacked a single to left field, scoring two and putting the Rays ahead. Ben Zobrist followed that up with a two run single of his own, giving the Rays a three run cushion they wouldn't squander. The only starting member of the lineup not to reach base was Luke Scott.
The much maligned -- for good reason -- bullpen was excellent in support of Cobb. Josh Lueke, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney combined to not give up a hit and walked just two in their extensive cleanup work. Lueke was particularly impressive. Having just been called up to the big league club from Triple-A Durham this afternoon (for the injured Brandon Gomes), Lueke threw 1.1 innings of perfect ball, striking out two in the process. He started off each batter he faced with a slider -- pitching backwards since the Padres were likely expecting his 96mph fastball.
-Longoria is now hitting .524 with 9 RBI on the 5 game homestand.
-Rays tied a club record with 18 strikeouts in a nine inning game. Two shy of the MLB record, previously done four times.