Who here honestly thought we'd win both of these games? Seriously, be honest. Against Waino and Lynn, the aces of the Cardinal staff, I was hoping for a split. I was not expecting two wins, in more or less dominant fashion. And even though the Rays "only" won this game by 3-0, make no mistake: this was a dominant performance by Alex Cobb, easily comparable to his 7-inning four-hit effort in Cincinnati earlier this year, before the bad times.
What follows is a recap, helpfully split into three palatable sections for the discerning palette. I recommend a nice rose as a pairing.
All Alex Cobb did was throw strikes. In the first three innings, 7 of the 9 outs were retired via the punch-out. What's more, 6 of those were swings-and-misses. Cobb's stuff was prime today and considering how he's been up and down most of this year, it's an encouraging outing.
The Rays' offense, however, struggled to cash in on opportunities. A first-pitch, leadoff double by Desmond Jennings was wasted when, after Zobrist pushed him over to third with one out and Joyce walked, Evan Longoria grounded into a double play to end the inning. The Rays struck in the second, but the scoring of runs today would prove to be an exception, not the rule.
Yunel Escobar hit a one-out infield single to third, and a wild pitch by Lance Lynn both put Jose Molina down on strikes and advanced Yunel to second. In stepped Alex Cobb, another Rays pitcher who inexplicably was placed in the eighth spot in the lineup, behind the hot-hitting bat of Kevin Kiermaier. This is a stupid, dumb idea and Maddon should be fi-
well whatever it's still weird. #RaysUp 1-0
Kiermaier walked (!) right after that but Jennings flew out on a full count. In the next inning Joyce hit an infield single but nothing came of it.
In the top of the fourth Yunel Escobar was ejected over arguing a strike call that he really didn't have any business being mad over.
It looked like it was right there too me, a great pitch that on a full count you needed to swing at. But hey what do I know I'm just a nerd in my living room. Anyway we are at least treated to an Escobar Fire Show (TM), and somewhere David Ross is shaking his head. Jose Molina, of all people, hits a double to left. In steps Alex Cobb, fearless leader and owner of the sole RBI so f-
AHHHHHH NO NO NO GOD NO IF ALEX COBB IS HURT I'M GIVING UP ON THE SEASON SWEET MERCIFUL NEPTUNE
I love Lance Lynn's reaction at the end of this GIF. It makes it seem like Alex Cobb is a big dumb crybaby who pulls this kind of crap all the time. Kiermaier and Jennings would make a couple unproductive outs, ending the inning and stranding more men in scoring position.
In the bottom of the fourth, Matt Adams got a groundball hit but was thrown out by Molina trying to steal second. In the fifth the only player to reach base was Matt Joyce (on a walk) whereas everyone else was handily retired. In the top of the sixth Lynn again retired the side, picking up two strikeouts on Logan Forsythe and Molina. He seemed, at this point in the game, to be picking up steam.
In the bottom of the inning the Cardinals would put up their biggest threat thus far. Matt Carpenter led off the inning with a double, and a Kolten Wong laid down an expertly placed bunt. He was only retired thanks to an athletic throw by our light-hitting, defensively inclined Evan Longoria. With one out, Matt Carpenter- on a full count- hit a perfectly placed groundball right to our favorite. slap-single hitting, power-lacking, local restaurant entrepreneur.
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyeah. Matt Adams grounded out harmlessly to Cobb on the next pitch, and I finally unclenched everything after 15 minutes.
In the seventh the Rays got some sweet, sweet insurance. A Jennings single followed by an error on a fairly simple Zobrist groundball put runners on the corners with one out. With that, the call was made to our favorite specialist Randy Choate. Playing chess, Maddon removed Matt Joyce and plugged in Brandon Guyer, who pretty much leaned into a close pitch and took first on a HBP. Choate was replaced by Seth Maness. Inheriting the bases loaded, he able to limit the damage to a single run from a sac fly from Longo. #RaysUp 2-0
Cobb retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, breaking GameDay in his last at-bat.
That's the last out of the inning, but it would appear that the umpire lost the count. I think. Look I was paying attention to the game and even I missed it, so unless I'm taking crazy pills, its what happened. Cobb threw one more strike after this, striking out Jon Jay on a 4-3 count. He would leave the game with 7 innings pitched, 0 walks, 0 runs, and 10 K's. This is what I'm talking about.
The eighth inning was boring, in all the right ways. Jose Molina led off the inning with a strikeout, but not before the ball skipped to the back and he made the most laughable attempt running to first. Boxberger was called to the mound in the bottom of the inning and put 'em down 1-2-3. All Boxberger does is throw strikes, too.
In the ninth the Rays picked up more insurances that they would not need. Brandon Guyer picked up an RBI after another Jennings single and a Zoby walk. Jake McGee came in for the final three outs. He struck out the side, all on 98 MPH fastballs up in the zone. I'm all for giving Jake McGee as many days off as he needs if this is what he supplies when he's well-rested.
All in all, this was a way better series than I could have hoped for. Today the Rays got 15 strikeouts (out of 30 men sent to the plate.) Yesterday they got 13. Collectively, over two games, more than half of their pitching outs recorded were by the strikeout. This is a positive development. Let's continue this against the Red Sox.
EMERGENCY POSTGAME EDIT: Joe Maddon called our 8-9 inning duo tonight "Jake in the Box."
Jake in the Box.
get out of here with your hatin' garbage joe maddon is the best manager alive