Down 3-1 in the third, Adeiny Hechavarria was caught planning to ambush pitcher Miguel Castro with a 1-0 sixth inning solo shot on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

The Tampa Bay Rays extended their winning streak to five on Wednesday — knocking former teammate Alex Cobb out of the game after a four-run fifth inning — en route to an 8-4 victory over Baltimore.

Source: FanGraphs

The Rays took the initial lead in the first inning, when Denard Span led off the game with a double to left-center. After C.J. Cron grounded out to third for the first out of the frame, Carlos Gomez moved Span up 90 feet on a single to right. Ever the eloquent base runner, Brad Miller drove in the first run on a ground ball out to short. Even though it appeared that Miller, again, turned his ankle stepping on the bag, the infielder stayed in the game following a visit by Paul Harker and Kevin Cash.

After the game, Cash never did say whether he called for a run-and-hit on the run scoring play. Either way, that Gomez charged into second — thus breaking up a potential double play — instantly paid dividends for the Rays.

Yet Jacob Faria, essentially matching Cobb’s mediocrity pitch-for-pitch, allowed Baltimore to immediately answer in the bottom half of the frame. Trey Mancini led things off with a foreboding walk in the home first, then scored on a two-out double into the left-field corner by Adam Jones. It certainly didn’t help that the ball got stuck in the padding at the bottom of the wall, forcing Span to literally dig it out.

Faria continued to struggle in the second, when the Orioles took a two-run lead. Pedro Alvarez worked a one out walk before Anthony Santander and Jace Peterson went back-to-back with doubles, giving Baltimore a 3-1 advantage. That would be the last hit Faria would allow until Chance Sisco tee’d off on the hurler in the home half of the fifth, chasing him in favor of the bullpen.

Meanwhile, down by two in the top of fifth, Adeiny Hechavarria sparked the go-ahead rally with a single to right-center. Span followed with a bunt single up the left side, before Cron doubled down the left field line, scoring both runners and tying the game at three.

After Cron moved up to third on a Gomez fly-ball out to right, Miller plated his second productive-out RBI on a sacrifice-fly to right. After Daniel Robertson doubled to left, Joey Wendle capped the rally with an RBI single to center, giving the Rays a lead they’d never relinquish.

Cobb’s night was done after he walked Wilson Ramos. All told he gave up 10 hits, a walk and hit a batter over 4-2/3 innings. Cobb didn’t record a single strikeout.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Alex because he is a bulldog, a smart pitcher, and has meant a lot to the fan base and organization. However, the Rays offense deserves credit for putting together a good approach at the plate, knowing that Cobb — as a two pitch pitcher — needs to get ahead of batters early in counts … and because of it, he tends to be aggressive within the zone. Moreover, Alex isn’t right, and Tampa Bay pounced. As Orestes Destrade said during the post game broadcast, Cobb shouldn’t be pitching in the big leagues at the moment, especially after a shortened spring.

After Faria was pulled in the fifth, Andrew Kittredge got the final two outs of the inning, setting up another rally.

Hechavarria answered in the top of the sixth, clubbing a homer to left off Miguel Castro, pushing the team’s lead to a pair.

But the coolest moment of the game came in the bottom of the inning, when Jonny Venters made his triumphant return to the big leagues — his first appearance since 2012 or 2,028 days. Venters coaxed a Chris Davis ground out to lead off the frame.

The LOOGY departed in favor of a beast mode-like Matt Andriese, who put down the next two batters on four pitches.

In the seventh, Wendle singled home a run off southpaw Tanner Scott befpre Ramos drove him home on a double, capping the scoring at eight. All told, the Rays collected 14 hits (including three from Wendle) while Robertson reached base four times. They have now scored eight runs or more in four consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.

Andriese returned in the seventh and retired the five batters in order before allowing a two-out hit in the eighth; that included a three strikeout seventh inning. Jose Alvarado closed out the game with a perfect ninth, as Tampa Bay’s bullpen allowed just one base runner over the final 4-2/3 innings, and needed just 55 pitches to do so.

The New What Next

The Rays wrap up a rain-soaked two-game set on Thursday with Chris Archer (1-1, 6.59) on the mound. He’ll start opposite of Dylan Bundy (1-2, 1.42).

Chris Archer allowed a second inning homer in his last start, then settled down from that point on.

Archer got better depth on his slider and paired it with a lively fastball, as well a changeup which he largely threw to southpaw hitters. In fact, Archer threw 14 changeups on the night (10 for strikes, two whiffs) — a rarity of sorts. Archer notched a of whiffy strikeout of Kepler, and coaxed a ground ball out from Morrison in the seventh, both via the changeup.

All told, Archer went 6-2/3 innings and allowed just two runs on four hits, while walking one and fanning five. He threw 92 pitches (62 strikes, 67% K/BB).

Dylan Bundy allowed one run on five hits and struck out nine over six innings to earn his first victory of the season against Cleveland on Friday. Cleveland’s lone run came on a bases-loaded HBP to score Jason Kipnis, yet Bundy scattered three hits and a walk over the next five frames. The right-hander has been very good at the onset of the season, and now owns a 1.42 ERA to go along with a 1.11 WHIP and 40 punch-outs across 31-2/3 innings. This season he has relied primarily on a 92 mph four-seam fastball with good “rising action”, and a whiffy 82 mph slider. He also has mixed in an 84 mph changeup with slight armside fade, a 92 mph sinker, and a 75 mph curveball with a lot of bite. Key Matchups: Brad Miller (2-8, HR, RBI), Mallex Smith (2-5, RBI), Denard Span (1-3, 2B, RBI)

You can read more about the series in our preview.

The New What Next: Rays vs Orioles — a series preview

Rays 4/26/18 Starting Lineup

Span LF
Cron 1B
Gomez RF
Miller DH
Robertson 3B
Wendle 2B
Ramos C
Smith CF
Hechavarria SS
Archer RHP

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