Alex Cobb was excellent on Saturday, while the Rays’ defense put on a leather flashing clinic. Cobb and Alex Colome combined to three-hit Boston, as the Rays won 1–0 over the first place Red Sox. Tampa Bay starts the day at 46–43, looking to close out the ceremonial first half of the season four games over .500.
Cobb was brilliant over 7-2/3 innings, relinquishing just two singles, while not allowing a runner beyond first. He struck out three. The right-hander didn’t have his whiffy stuff, although the split-change (the Thing) was more prevalent this time than last — throwing it for strikes 11 of 19 times, with four swings-and-misses. The Thing had a decent 6.68 inches of break, which is a positive, although he relied heavily on his fastball and knuckle-curve to great effect. Cobb used his repertoire to pitch to contact and miss barrels.
The right-hander was helped by web-gems from shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in the second and fifth innings.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 9, 2017
More highlights from Hech today. pic.twitter.com/69H6Eh2S0q
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 8, 2017
In fact, the whole team joined in on the fun. Evan Longoria robbed Mookie Betts in the first, Mallex Smith ran down a ball in the triangle early in the game, and Shane Peterson made a sliding catch in left in the sixth. Even Brad Miller, who later allowed a base runner to reach on an error, made a sharp play on Xander Bogaerts in the fourth.
Not to be outdone, even Cobb joined the party (see at :16 in the video below):
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 9, 2017
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay got on the board against Rick Porcello in the second inning. Steven Souza Jr. and Miller singled to start the rally. Hechavarria grounded into a 6–4 fielder’s choice that was originally ruled a double play, but was overturned upon review. After Shane Peterson was hit by a 1–2 pitch, which consequently loaded the bases, Jesus Sucre plated the only run of the game on a sacrifice-fly to deep center, scoring Souza.
The Rays had other chances against Porcello, who previously allowed 13 runs against Tampa Bay this season. The reigning Cy Young Award winner stranded Smith at third base in the first and seventh innings; and Longoria at first in the third, and third in the fifth innings. All told, he scattered six hits.
Their best chance of plating an insurance run came in the seventh inning with Smith in scoring position, yet Xander Bogaerts robbed Corey Dickerson of a run-scoring hit, ending the frame.
With his start coming to a close in the eighth, Cobb walked Sandy Leon with one out. Sam Travis pinch-ran, yet Tsu-Wei Lin was robbed of a hit by Souza. in right for the second out of the frame. At 111 pitches, and having fallen behind the last three hitters, Cobb was lifted.
Acknowledging the crowd that gave him a standing ovation, the right-hander made his way to the dugout, as Alex Colome took the mound.
— Will Vragovic (@willvrag) July 8, 2017
Colome quickly fell behind Mookie Betts 3–0, before getting him to fly out to center.
Colome started the ninth and got Dustin Pedroia to ground to short, yet Bogaerts walked with one out after falling behind 0–2. Mitch Moreland followed.
The right-hander got ahead of Moreland 0-2, then went for the punchout on a good cutter in the dirt. Moreland appeared to go around with his swing, however, Jerry Meals ruled it a check and therefore a ball. With new life, Boston’s first baseman lashed a double off the wall in right. Souza barehanded the carom and quickly fired it back in, holding Bogaerts at third. After Ramirez struck out, and Andrew Benintendi was intentionally walked — loading the bases — Chris Young popped out to short, preserving the win.
The New What Next
The Rays and Red Sox wrap up the four-game series on Sunday with a marquee matchup between Chris Archer (7-5, 3.95 ERA, 3.02 FIP) and his former mentor, David Price (4-2, 4.02 ERA, 4.45 FIP).
Archer not only collected his 11th quality start of the season on Tuesday, but also tallied his first career hit and RBI. The Rays have won in four of Archer’s last five starts, while he’s posted at least six innings over his last nine. He did put an uncomfortable number of men on base in this one, but he escaped several jams and limited the damage, which amounted to three runs total. And though he labored through an inefficient 116 pitches over six innings of work, Archer he threw an impressive 69% for strikes, including 24 whiffs.
Price blanked the opposition for the first time this season on Tuesday against the Rangers, while striking out nine. The former Ray scattered six hits, yet he held Texas scoreless as the BoSox raced to an early lead. Price left the game in the seventh inning because of an apparent injury to his pitching hand, although John Farrell said afterward that he was removed because of a high pitch count and long sixth inning. The Rays have had a lot of success against their former ace, tagging him for 23 runs (21 earned) over seven starts and 45 innings of work. They’ll try to keep it rolling in the final game before the All-Star Break on Sunday. Key Matchups: Corey Dickerson (1-3), Adeiny Hechavarria (2-6), Trevor Plouffe (9-25, 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB)
Rays 7/9/17 Starting Lineup
— We’ll be off the grid from Monday-through-Thursday morning, then back again on the interwebs at some point thereafter.
— Tropicana Field, Saturday, July 22, #BaseballForever Night at the Trop 2017, do it! I’ll bring an extra special mixtape for all of you. Come to think of it, that’s a really great bad idea – I’m going to start a SoundCloud of terrible songs to share with everyone! I digress. You can find out more information about the event here.
— The attendance at the Trop for the life of this series has been around 24,000 people per game. Not bad!
Still, this bears mentioning:
Rays fans, it was incredible to witness an average of +40,000 fans turn out the last two days to watch the Rays battle the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was loud and raucous, and it made me wish our home games were again like that. Guess what? The Tampa Bay Rays are in contention, and they deserve your support.
Personally, I traveled from St. Petersburg to Chicago — almost 2,000 miles, mind you — to attend the series. From there, it took me 45 minutes to travel from Bucktown (where I stayed) to Wrigleyville, by rail, and then back again. I didn’t complain when I was cramped like a sardine on the Blue and Red CTA Lines. Matter of fact, I hate being touched by strangers, although I remembered where I was and why, and I was thankful for the opportunity to watch may favorite baseball team take on the World Series champions some 2,000 miles from home — give or take 30 miles.
I wasn’t alone.
S/O to all the Rays fans who came out to support us in Chicago! Awesome to see! Big series at the Trop gonna need the place packed out!
— Steven Souza Jr. (@SouzaJr) July 5, 2017
Friends, Steven Souza Jr. is right! The upcoming series against Boston is HUGE, and the good guys can make up some ground in the AL East and postseason standings going into the break. They
want need it rockin’ and loud under the big top this weekend.
Not to pat myself on the back, but if I can literally stand on my feet for the better part of seven hours, from Tuesday morning into the late afternoon — including the ingress and egress into and out of the Friendly Confines, as well as the time spent standing in the bleacher section, under the centerfield scoreboard — then you can make the short or longer trek from wherever you live (be that in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, etc) to the Trop, to root on our team.
Boo-hoo, the bridge is long.
Suck it up, and show up late if you have to.
But the traffic is terrible!
No shit! But it’s not Rays fault that the City of Tampa and/or FDOT designed an intentional bottleneck on the east side of the Howard Franklin Bridge, which makes it hard to get into and out of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties during rush hour. Pro tip: show up a little late, or take the Gandy Bridge, which has been made much quicker on the Pinellas side.
In the end, the players shouldn’t have to deal with the embarrassment associated with an apathetic fanbase. Quit making excuses, and get out to the Trop!