Alex Cobb was cruising through the Texas Rangers lineup as he entered the ninth inning. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays waited too long to go to the bullpen.
Last night, Alex Cobb was cruising along for the Tampa Bay Rays. Through eight innings, he had held the Texas Rangers to just one run on three hits, that run coming on a mistake he made to Elvis Andrus in the first inning. From that point on, Cobb was dominant, breezing through the Rangers lineup.
With the Rays holding to a 3-1 lead, manager Kevin Cash had a decision to make. Alex Colome was ready in the bullpen, prepared to get those final three outs needed to ensure victory. However, Cobb had only thrown 96 pitches, and had topped that mark in each of his last six outings. Although he was clearly ending the end of his night, Cobb had also held the Rangers lineup down.
In the end, Cash decided to stick with Cobb. That move would prove to be the wrong decision, as he allowed a double to Joey Gallo to lead off the ninth. On the next pitch, Shin-Soo Choo homered to tie the game. Cobb’s night was done, and Colome entered the game to preserve the tie. In the end, the Rangers managed to push a run across in the top of the tenth to take the 4-3 victory.
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One cannot fault Cash for wanting to see if Cobb could get through the ninth. Even with the power hitting Gallo coming to bat to lead off the inning, he could only account for one run. The worst case scenario was that Gallo would hit a baseball to Fort Lauderdale, and Colome would come in with a one run lead.
Instead, the Rays waited one pitch too long. After that leadoff double, it would have been the perfect moment to take Cobb out of the game. he had given Tampa Bay everything he had left. Turning the ball over to Colome at that point would have made sense. Instead, he was allowed to face Choo, and one pitch later, victory was no longer in the cards for the Rays.
It is easy to second guess situations like these. Conventional wisdom would have been to pull Cobb after the eighth, and let Colome get the final three outs. Even letting Cobb start the eighth, and removing him after a baserunner, would have been accepted. However, the Rays waited too long to pull Cobb.
Alex Cobb had a great start for the Tampa Bay Rays. If he had been removed one batter earlier, it could have resulted in a victory.