The Tampa Bay Rays were at one point this season 18 games under .500. Now, they sit just one game below. The Rays have much loftier goals than evening up their record, but it’s a start and it will be exciting to see how far they can get.
Helping to get them there was Alex Cobb. Fresh off his best start of the season, 7 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts against the St. Louis Cardinals, Cobb did arguably better against the Cardinals’ division rivals Milwaukee Brewers. He went 8 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 12 while walking 2. The Brewers saw such a sense of urgency to score against him that Mark Reynolds, Milwaukee’s leading home run hitter, put down a sac bunt in the fifth inning (his first sacrifice since 2008) to move runners to second and third. The move worked as Scooter Gennett delivered a go-ahead sac fly, but that would be all they would get against him all game. Alex Cobb had his best split-change of the season, throwing it more than his fastball (44 to 41) yet still generating a ridiculous 15 swings-and-misses. Brewers hitters didn’t stand a chance.
Former Ray Matt Garza opposed Cobb and was excellent in his own right, going 7 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 2 and walking 2 as well. Once Garza departed, however, the floodgates opened. Ben Zobrist continued his strong day with an RBI double off Will Smith to start a four-run eighth inning. Brandon Guyer‘s RBI single was bookended around RBIs by a pair of pinch-hitters, an RBI by Logan Forsythe and a sac fly by Cole Figueroa. Figueroa entered the game under strange circumstances–Yunel Escobar was ejected after arguing a strike call–but that was the last thing in the Rays’ minds after an excellent win. Grant Balfour finished it off with a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts as the Rays won their 11th game of their last 12.