The Tampa Bay Rays took on the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday at Tropicana Field in the second game of the young season. The Rays were hoping to build off of a strong 9-2 win on Opening Day, but could not get the offense needed to pull out the win.
Alex Cobb started the game and lasted 5 innings while giving up all 4 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks. The biggest question mark in his arsenal, his curveball, actually looked great. He did a good job command it down in the zone and got plenty of swings and misses on the pitch. However, his usually great split-changeup and fastball were not as good, and he missed down in the zone too many times. His biggest downfall was when he left a split-changeup over the heart of the plate to Adam Lind, who took the ball over the centerfield fence for a 3-run homer. The walks also hurt Cobb, as two of the four runners that scored reached base via walk. Overall, this was an outing that Cobb wishes he could re-do, but the progression from the curveball is encouraging going forward.
Heath Bell relieved Cobb in the 6th. He put together a nice 1-2-3 inning, and the Rays are hoping he can once again establish himself as one of the game’s top relievers after a tough last couple of years. Josh Lueke came on for the 7th and allowed a walk, but also had two nice strikeouts. The Rays then asked Cesar Ramos to get the next five outs, and he did his job. He would not have trusted him in a similarly important situation last season, but after a strong spring Ramos has earned himself a more important role. Jake McGee got the final out of the 9th inning. After Cobb’s poor outing, the bullpen did a great job of keeping the Rays in it until the end.
The Rays offense was stagnant for the first seven innings, and by the time it finally got going in the 8th, it was too late. A Wil Myers double drove in Matt Joyce in the 8th to make it 4-1, and the Rays headed into the 9th looking for at least 3. Evan Longoria led off with a hustle double, and was quickly driven in by Desmond Jennings. A Ryan Hanigan walk paired with a double steal gave the Rays two men on with two outs, but Yunel Escobar struck out looking to end the game. The Rays managed a decent seven hits on the day, but just three of these came before the 7th inning. The Rays could have used some more timely hitting to give themselves a chance to win this one.
The top performers of the day were Joyce and Jennings. Joyce went 2-3 with two singles and a walk to go along with a run scored from the leadoff spot. Jennings was 2-3 with a pair of doubles, a walk, and an RBI. As he enters a key year after being a bit of a disappointment at the plate the past two years, it is nice to see him off to a strong start. Let’s hope that he can keep it up.
The Rays will take on the Blue Jays in the rubber match tomorrow back at Tropicana Field at 7:10. Matt Moore and Mark Buehrle are the probable pitchers in what should be a nice matchup of young lefty vs. veteran lefty.