Alex Cobb, coming off of what was, statistically, the worst start in his major league career, was relying on the fastball early in his new approach to pitching.
Facing an Oakland team with a paltry record on the road, just eight of 29 wins this season, it seemed like the perfect bounce back opportunity. Cobb got the offense of the opposing side to go 1-2-3 in the first inning. His tone was set.
Leading off the bottom half, the A’s starter Triggs wanted nothing to do with Mallex Smith, walking him and then peppering first base with throws to force him back to the bag. Mallex stole two bases anyway in the first inning. His next time up he'd steal again. His ability to bring a new dimension to the Rays offense was well on display.
But his base-running heroics were not even needed in the first, as Steven Souza Jr hit a towering shot off a slider that was missing a little something behind it, putting it on a platter for Souza. The always iconic three-run bomb put the Rays ahead for good.
Although you can see how Triggs is of major league caliber, he fell apart, allowing plenty of base runners with a poor defense surrounding him, a theme that would continue for Oakland after he was chased from the game in the fourth.
Triggs left the game when Logan Morrison upped the rays score to eight on a well struck line drive home run to the front row. Souza Jr. followed with a “C-Ring Triple” where the left fielder for the A’s couldn’t track the ball and may have suffered a ricochet, but it wasn’t seen well enough on camera for umpires to call it a homerun.
Watching Souza tonight you would have no idea he’d been struggling in the last week, with quality plate appearances throughout the game. He had an impressive steal to put him in position to score the Rays fifth run on a Rasmus single in the third, and sandwiched that with the homer and triples noted above.
In his fourth plate appearance, Souza worked a full count on two outs with a chance at being the second Rays player to ever hit for the cycle*, but Healey the third baseman snagged a hard grounder on one knee that had gotten by him earlier in the game. His final plate appearance was a pop up in shallow right field.
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- Tim Beckham hit a towering shot to the 404 sign in center, with this nice flip:
...but then might have started ruffling feathers after challenging for extra bases on a single to Rajai Davis in center, breaking an unwritten rule of baseball regarding trying too hard when you’re up by like 10. Davis is a vet, and got the throw in for a close play. The ump called him out, and the Rays didn’t challenge.
- Cobb’s lone run allowed was in the sixth inning, just as his curveball was becoming dastardly. Pitching away from Lowrie and then Khris Davis backfired on two outs, ending with an RBI single on a fastball away that could have gone foul.
- Ryan Featherston made his debut in the seventh during a defensive switch, taking over for LoMo. He’d fly out to left-center later in the game.
*The only Rays cycle was by B.J. Upton in 2009, but it should be noted that Sam Fuld, on the weekend he became legendary, stretched his cycle-worthy single into his second double of the night, overboogying his way out of the history books.