The Yankees are in first place by themselves no more. The Rays played the role of spoiler on Tuesday, beating the Yankees to push them into a tie for first in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles. But the Rays are planning to be a whole lot more than spoilers. They’re just 1.5 games back and closing quickly.
Alex Cobb proves again and again that he’s the best fifth starter in baseball. In another rotation, he could be a lot more than a 5th starter. Cobb allowed a 2-run homer to Robinson Cano in the first inning. That was it. Cobb allowed 4 baserunners over the next 3 innings before retiring 10 in a row to end his outing. Cobb went 7 sharp innings allowing just the 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 5 while walking just 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was an outstanding 12-3. Cobb was great, and thankfully the Rays got him plenty of run support.
In the 1st inning, the Rays got one run back against Freddy Garcia, with Desmond Jennings walking and stealing 2nd before B.J. Upton scored him on a double down the left field line to make it a 2-1 game. It remained that way until the 3rd, when Garcia hanged a splitter and Evan Longoria took advantage, drilling a 2-run homer to turn the deficit into a 3-2 lead. It was Longoria’s long-awaited 10th homer of the season. But the Rays were far from through with the longball for the day. In the 5th, Desmond Jennings and Upton tagged Garcia for back-to-back homers to make it 5-2 Rays. Upton’s homer was his 18th, passing Carlos Pena for the team lead.
Joel Peralta struck out the side in the 8th working around a Derek Jeter single before Fernando Rodney worked around an Alex Rodriguez single in the 9th for his MLB-leading 42nd save as the Rays won 5-2. Cobb (9-8) earned the win, while Garcia (7-6) took the loss. It all came together for the Rays as the pitching was there and the offense came through as the Rays won their 4th straight game and improved to 3-0 in September. How quickly things can turn around- 4 straight losses led right into 4 straight wins. The Rays look to continue their strong play with a sweep of the Yankees as Matt Moore matches up against Hiroki Kuroda. The Yankees’ collapse and the Orioles’ improbable run are the stories in the AL East right now. If there’s anything the Rays want to spoil, it’s both of their dreams.