After the Rays failed to snap their recent slide last night, it was up to Alex Cobb to attempt to play the role of stopper. Cobb certainly did his part, but unfortunately it was more of the same for the Rays offense, as they failed to provide any run support during his solid outing.
Cobb and Oakland A’s starter Sonny Gray were locking in a pitching duel right from the start, as Gray struck out five batters over the first two innings. Cobb was nearly as good, striking out four in his two innings, and it appeared early that runs would be at a premium. Whichever starter made the first mistake may well find themselves on the losing end.
The Rays appeared to be the beneficiaries of such a mistake when Jose Lobaton hit a ground ball down the first base line that skipped through first baseman Daric Barton for a double. With two outs, Gray was called for a balk, and the Rays had a chance to get on the board. However, Gray managed to get David DeJesus to ground out to third to strand the runner.
Cobb made the first costly mistake in the bottom of the sixth. Former Ray Stephen Vogt, who was memorably 0 for 2012, led off with a triple that was crushed to right, and scored on a base hit by Coco Crisp. Crisp later provided an insurance run in the eighth, turning on a fastball and drilling it down the right field line for a home run.
Gray, meanwhile, was solid throughout his appearance, shutting down the Rays offense. Heading into the top of the ninth, that one opportunity in the fifth was their one chance at putting a run on the board. Another former Ray, Grant Balfour, came in to shut the door and send the Rays away with another loss.
Yet, Tampa would not go quietly into the night. With one out, Wil Myers lined a double to right, and James Loney drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Lobaton followed with a lined shot, but it was right at the second baseman as the Rays were down to their final out. Desmond Jennings had an RBI single to cut the lead in half and give the Rays an opportunity to tie the game or even take the lead, but pinch hitter Kelly Johnson grounded to first for the final out.
Cobb pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on five hits over eight innings. His command was a bit off, as he walked four batters, but he compensated with seven strikeouts. Cobb certainly pitched well enough to win, but the Rays had the same problem they have had almost all August – an inability to get the key hits with runners on base.
Loney was on base almost all night, going 2-3 with a walk. Myers broke his 0-22 slump with the one out double in the ninth.