After winning seven of their previous eight games, the Tampa Bay Rays ran into a wall on Thursday, losing to the Detroit Tigers 8-1. Starter Alex Cobb, meanwhile, had a 3.48 ERA in his first nine starts of 2014, but he lasted just 10 innings in his previous two starts while allowing nine runs. Both desperately needed a strong game to get back on track, and that is exactly what they received on Friday night.
Cobb’s outing ended in disappointing fashion as he allowed two runs without recording an out in the sixth. On the whole, however, he looked much improved. Overall, he went five innings allowing three runs on five hits, striking out five while walking two. The two walks combined with a hit batsman led to Cobb’s troubles in that final inning, but the five strikeouts were as many as he had in his previous two games combined. Cobb’s groundball to flyball ratio was a strong 6-3, and faced the minimum three in three different innings. May the Rays’ worst problem be Alex Cobb continuing to work his way back into form.
Helping Cobb along were the Rays’ bullpen and the offense. Brad Boxberger replaced Cobb in that sixth inning, and he forced a double play and a strikeout to get out of the inning allowing just a run. Overall, he went 2 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts for his fourth straight appearance without allowing a baserunner. Joel Peralta then worked a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth before Jake McGee recorded his sixth save in the ninth. On the offensive side, meanwhile, it was two of the Rays’ biggest stars shining as brightly as they have all season.
Evan Longoria doubled in the second inning before drilling his 11th homer in the fourth. Overall, he went 2 for 2 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored in the type of game that the Rays hope to see from him more often. Ben Zobrist, meanwhile, finally delivered another hit with runners in scoring position, drilling a two-out RBI double in the third inning. He laced another run-scoring double in the fifth to cap his 2 for 5 day. Finally, Sean Rodriguez is not a superstar but has played like one at times, and had another big hit in this game, a two-run triple in the sixth frame. After just one run against Max Scherzer and the Tigers on Thursday, the Rays lineup was back on track on Friday to lead the team to victory.
The Rays found a way to come up with a big win and even up their series with the Tigers. Tomorrow, Chris Archer will take on Anibal Sanchez at 4:08 PM as the Rays hope for their seventh win in their last eight games.