Timely hitting is important to winning games. Unfortunately, timely hitting doesn’t matter when you just don’t get hits and don’t get baserunners. The Rays were lucky to get three runs on Wednesday afternoon.
Alex Cobb allowed a hit-by-pitch and a couple of groundball singles to allow a run in the first inning. He then escaped a bases-loaded, no outs jam in the top of the second inning before Luke Scott slammed an opposite-field solo home run off Jose Quintana in the bottom half to tie the game at 1. But Cobb ran into more trouble in the third inning and this time it cost him. With 1 out, Alex Rios doubled, and then Alex Cobb hit A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch. That could very well have been intentional after Pierzynski slid into purposely Ben Zobrist‘s ankle on a force play at second base on Tuesday. But the White Sox then had 2 runners on with 1 out, and they made Cobb pay, with Dayan Viciedo delivering a single and Alexei Ramirez contributing a sac fly to give the White Sox a 3-1 advantage. If Cobb truly hit Pierzynski with purpose (which he presumably did), he picked a terrible spot and it may have lost the Rays the game.
The tension continued in the 4th inning. With 2 outs and nobody on in the bottom of the 4th, Quintana threw a laser behind Ben Zobrist, and he was immediately ejected as was White Sox manager Robin Ventura. The Scott homer was the only baserunner Quintana allowed in 3.2 innings prior to the HBP. But the White Sox kept rolling in the top of the 5th, stringing together Viciedo and Ramrirez doubles to plate a 4th run. Cobb went 5 innings, allowing 4 runs on 9 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. He just allowed hit after hit and his command issues were exacerbated by the Pierzynski HBP.
Nate Jones replaced Quintana and the Rays finally got something against him in the 6th inning. With 1 out and Jose Molina on after a single, Carlos Pena slammed a 2-run shot into the right field seats. But White Sox relievers Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain combined for 2.1 perfect innings as the Rays remained behind 4-3.
In the 9th inning, Addison Reed came in to close out the game for the White Sox. Carlos Pena led off the inning with a walk, and two batters later, Matt Joyce singled to amazingly give the Rays just their first runner in scoring position in the game. The Rays could not take advantage as Ben Zobrist and Luke Scott both popped out to end the game.
Jones (3-0) got the win in the game while Cobb (2-1) took the loss and Reed earned his 6th save. The Rays got shut down for the most part by whoever the White Sox put on the mound, and Cobb could not give them a good outing and four shutout relief innings went to waste. The result: the Rays just got swept at home. That’s never fun. The Rays have an off-day on Thursday to attempt to fathom what just happened. The Rays could have won either of the first two games and even on Wednesday they had an opportunity to steal the game. The Rays start a 3-game set with the first place Baltimore Orioles on Friday with an opportunity to seize the top spot in the AL East for themselves.