Tampa Bay Rays: Cobb Roughed Up Against the Yankees

Apr 10, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb (53) pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb (53) pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite pitching into the eighth inning, Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb is trampled by extra-base hits on a day when the Rays bats were silenced narrowly escaping a perfect game.

Facing the Yankees for the second time in six days, Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb was looking to improve on his first start that saw him pitch 5.2 innings in which he allowed just one run and dominated. Additionally, Cobb was attempting to win consecutive starts for the first time since 2014.

In this, his second start against the Yankees Cobb was not as effective as that first start as he was hurt by four extra-base hits this time around, which included two home runs. Although the start for Cobb was not as bad as the final game line, there were positives and negatives to this start.

The positives for Cobb is that for the first time since 2014, he threw over 100 pitches, he pitched into the eighth inning his longest start since facing the Yankees back on Sept. 11, 2014, and struck out seven. However, the mistakes with his pitches could not go unnoticed this time around.

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While in command with his changeup and fastball facing the Yankees last week, this was not the case on Monday afternoon in the Yankees home opener as the changeup was a non-factor, causing him to rely on his curveball. Four costly mistakes was all she wrote for Cobb, as Matt Holliday and Jacoby Ellsbury both reached on run scoring doubles with the deadly home runs going to Chase Headley and Aaron Judge as the main culprits.

Meanwhile, Michael Pineda who was chased in his last start against the Rays in the fourth inning, would dominate this time around as he was perfect through seven innings before the Rays finally reached base.

Evan Longoria broke up the perfect game with a double in the seventh inning and in the eighth inning, Logan Morrison belted a home run to end the shutout. Those hits were the only two mustered by the Rays on the day.

Cobb gave up one run in the third, fourth and seventh innings and was reached for two in the eighth. Ellsbury’s double scored Bret Gardner who was aboard after hitting a single in the third; with two outs, coming after back-to-back strikeouts Judge would take a 2-2 count deep for his second home run of the season in the fourth and Headley connected with a solo shot in the seventh.

The Yankees would plate five runs in the eighth, but not all Cobb’s doing. Gardner reached on Brad Miller’s error and advanced to third via two stolen bases before scoring on Matt Holliday’s double, which ended Cobb’s day. Austin Pruitt would be summoned to the mound, where he would give up a triple to Chris Carter with Holliday crossing the plate and the run being charged to Cobb.

Cobb’s invisible curveball meanwhile turned whatever positives he showed on the day into negatives as it got him into trouble and with Pineda pitching like Sandy Koufax, the Rays offense sputtered like a car running out of gas.

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Cobb would finish his day having allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits – two of the hits went for home runs with seven strikeouts and walk in the loss, but more concerning was Austin Pruitt’s ineffectiveness again.

In two-thirds of an inning, Pruitt gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits, which included a two-run home run by Sterling Castro in the eighth inning.

Making the 25-man roster out of spring training, Cash praised Pruitt’s ability for his control and mound presence throughout spring training. However, in three appearances (1.2 innings) he has allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits with a 16.20 ERA.

Pruitt is a work in progress, but how much longer manager Kevin Cash sticks with the struggling right-hander remains to be seen. Though it is early in the season Cash remains confident as evident by his remarks following Pruitt’s debut against the Yankees in Sunday’s game.

“It just didn’t go his way,” Cash said. “We’re going to get him out there as soon as possible. We know he’s going to get a lot of big outs for us this year.”

With Brad Boxberger (10-day DL) out until sometime in May with a flexor strain, and Shawn Tolleson on the 60-day DL also with a flexor strain, there does not seem to be any other bullpen relief coming the Rays way anytime soon.

Next: Push Back Rehab for Colby Rasmus

With a day off on Tuesday, the Rays and Yankees return to action on Wednesday afternoon as Blake Snell (0-1, 5.40) faces rookie Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 0.00) who will be making his major league debut.