One of the many great things about baseball is the chance to see history any time a game is played. Last night, the 12,424 fans in attendance got to see just that, courtesy of Alex Cobb.
Things did not look overly promising for Cobb in the first inning. He struck out two in the inning, but mixed his strikeouts with solo home runs to Will Venable and Carlos Quentin as the San Diego Padres jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But Cobb just kept racking up the strikeouts, even though he was throwing a lot of pitches. He struck out the side again in the second, and set the stage for a very peculiar third inning.
Cobb started out the inning by striking out Venable, but he reached on a wild pitch for the third strike. As Chase Headley struck out, Venable stole second, then took third on the very next pitch. Unfazed, Cobb struck out Quentin, leaving Venable at third. However, in the midst of facing Yonder alonso, Cobb balked, forcing in Venable to give the Padres a 3-0 lead. In that inning, Cobb had the peculiar line of 4 strikeouts, 0 hits or walks, but 1 earned run.
Tampa finally broke through against starter Edinson Volquez in the bottom of the inning. Back to back walks with one out put runners on first and second, and a Ben Zobrist fly ball moved the runner to third with two out. Evan Longoria followed with a base hit, driving in the first run for the Rays, keeping runners at first and third. Two pitches later, Volquez threw a wild pitch to bring in a run, as the Rays cut the lead to 3-2.
Cobb, meanwhile, kept racking up strikeouts as his pitch count continued to skyrocket. The Padres loaded the bases with two out in the fourth, but Cobb struck out Venable again to end the threat. With his pitch count approaching 100 after four, he came out for the fifth, and struck out Headley and Quentin to open the inning. After getting to 2-2 on Alonso, he walked him to bring his night to an end at 117 pitches. Josh Lueke came in, and got the final out of the inning to end the fifth. Overall, Cobb lasted only 4.2 innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits and two walks, but he struck out an astonishing 13 batters.
The 3-2 score remained until the bottom of the seventh, when former Ray Dale Thayer came into the game in relief of Volquez. However, his appearance ignited the Rays offense. Jose Lobaton reached on an infield single, and Yunel Escobar reached as Thayer threw away the throw on a sacrifice attempt. After another single loaded the bases, Ryan Roberts singled to drive in two, putting the Rays ahead 4-2. Thayer departed, and Anthony Bass was called upon to try to stem the bleeding. After a wild pitch move the runners to second and third, Zobrist singled, driving home both runners as the Rays took a 6-3 lead. The Rays loaded the bases once again with two outs, but Lobaton struck out to end the threat.
The Rays bullpen held on, as Fernando Rodney had another solid performance, picking up the save in the 6-3 win. Jake McGee pitched a perfect seventh to earn his first win on the season. Matthew Joyce was 2-4 with two runs scored and a walk. Longoria ended the night 2-4 with an RBI.