Don’t let the line fool you; Alex Cobb was not great tonight. True, he held the Angels to one run on six hits. And yes, the Angels only tagged him for that run — a Luis Valbuena solo shot in the seventh — after the Rays were comfortably ahead. But there were several other loud, long outs, especially in the early innings. He continued to not miss many bats. If the Angels had left their park in the dryer a little longer, this is a whole different ballgame.
What Cobb was, was efficient. His pitch count was only in the 50s through five, and the count didn’t start to climb until he tired late. He finished with 105 pitches (59 strikes) for his seven and two-third innings of work, striking out four and walking three. He also had his fifth pickoff of the year, nabbing Cliff Pennington in the third after an efficient four pitch pass.
So the pitching was solid but unspectacular. But offense? That was clicking from the outset.
After putting two on and stranding them in the first, the Rays drew first blood in the second inning. Back-to-back one out singles by Adeiny Hechavarria and Shane Peterson got the rally started. It was helped along when J.C. Ramirez spiked a slider in the dirt that got past Angel catcher Martin Maldonado, advancing the runners to second and third. Jesus Sucre quickly converted the mistake into a run with an RBI ground out short.
Corey Dickerson led off the third with a double. After an Evan Longoria lineout, Logan Morrison worked a long at bat before turning around a 3-2 fastball and depositing it approximately 420 feet away over the centerfield fence.
The Rays tacked on another run in the fourth. With one out, Shane Peterson hit a flare into left that a jogging Cameron Maybin seemed to have a read on, though the ball dropped well short of him. A hustling Peterson motored into second ahead of the Maybin’s wide throw for a weird looking double. Sucre followed, and was once again Jesus-on-the-spot, lining a single to right and plating Peterson.
With one out, Mallex Smith singled in the seventh, then stole second. Corey Dickerson followed by hitting a high fly that did not hit a catwalk or get lost in the roof because we were playing in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the flyball still managed fall directly behind a bewildered looking Mike Trout, allowing Dickerson to reach. The play was backed up well and ball fired in quickly, however, preventing Smith from advancing beyond third. But no worries. Longoria followed with his own high fly to Trout. Trout managed to haul this one in, but Smith tagged and scored easily on the play.
In the bottom of the seventh, Valbuena hit the aforementioned solo jack to put the Angels on the board. But the Rays answered in the next half inning. Steven Souza Jr. restored the cushion, absolutely destroying Keynan Middleton fastball as well as a centerfield camera and/or cameraman with a long bomb.
It was Souza’s career-high 18th dinger.
Cobb got into a bit of trouble in the eighth as he was clearly tiring. He yielded a two-out double to Kole Calhoun, the walked Mike Trout to end his night. Brad Boxberger came on to face Albert Pujols and got the aging slugger to ground into a force play to end the threat.
Jumbo Diaz pitched the ninth. He gave up a single to Yunel Escobar and a two-run homer to Valbuena to give us our 6-3 final.
- The Rays are now six games over .500, a full game ahead of the Yankees in second place, and two and a half games behind the first place Red Sox
- Corey Dickerson had a four hit night
- Shane Peterson had a three hit night
- Brad Miller had a no hit night, but looks really good in a red beard
- Jake Faria is adorable. When asked by Alex Corddry the classic “three wishes” question, he asked for 1) his upcoming wedding to Jessica be paid for; 2) a ‘69 Dodge Charger; 3) whatever Jessica wants
- The Rays go for the sweep Sunday afternoon. First pitch is at 3:37 PM.