Alex Cobb worked at least seven innings for the fourth time in his last five starts Saturday night, as the Tampa Bay Rays cruised to a 6-3 victory over the Angels. The Rays (49–43) start the day six games over .500, and within 2-1/2 games of the first place Red Sox after winning their seventh consecutive game at the Big A, in Anaheim.
Cobb didn’t have his best stuff Saturday night, although he didn’t allow a runner past second base until the seventh inning — when Luis Valbuena tagged him for a solo-shot to put Los Angeles on the board. By that time, the Rays were firmly in control.
The right-hander coaxed a lot of long, loud outs, especially early on, and he didn’t miss many bats. Cobb, however, was efficient. In spite of lapsed command — 59 of his 105 pitches went for strikes; 56% strike ratio — Cobb’s pitch count was only in the 50’s through the front five, and it didn’t start to climb until late in his outing. He struck out four and walked three.
Cobb found himself in just three jams.
With a pair on and none out in the second inning, he fanned Andrelton Simmons before inducing an inning ending 4-6-3 double play from Valbuena. In the third, Cobb picked off Cliff Pennington who initially reached on a four-pitch walk. Then in the sixth, the right-hander got Albert Pujols to ground out with two on to keep the Angels off the board.
Meanwhile, the Rays took a one-run lead in the second inning against J.C. Ramirez. After Adeiny Hechavarria reached on a one-out single to center, Shane Peterson smoked a base hit down the right field line. Both runners moved up 90 feet when Ramirez uncorked a wild pitch before Hechavarria scored on Jesus Sucre’s groundout.
That was the first of two RBI for the Rays’ backup catcher, who now has driven in 18 RBI wRISP (23 overall). In fact, Tampa Bay now has 57 RBI from its catchers – two more than all of last season.
Most RBI from No. 9 spot, MLB
Jose Iglesias, DET (24 in 232 AB)
Jesus Sucre, TB (20 in 75 AB)
Devon Marrero, BOS (19 in 115 AB)
— Dave Haller (@HallerDave) July 16, 2017
In the third inning, Corey Dickerson doubled to right, tagged up and went to third on Evan Longoria’s fly-ball out, and then came home on Logan Morrison’s two-run homer to left-center — his career high 25th of the season.
Rocked by LoMo. pic.twitter.com/xOP3JoEdVV
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 16, 2017
In the fourth, Shane Peterson hit a one-out bloop (and hustle) double to left, then scored on Sucre’s single to right-center.
Then in the seventh, Mallex Smith reached on a bloop single and then swiped second. Dickerson followed by hitting a high fly-ball that got lost in the non-existant catwalks and/or roof … you know, because the Rays are on the road and not at home. Somehow the ball managed fall directly between a confused looking Mike Trout and Cole Calhoun, allowing Dickerson to reach. For his part, Calhoun backed up the play well and fired the ball in quickly, preventing Smith from advancing past third. Longoria followed with a sacrifice-fly to Trout, which allowed Smith to tag and easily score on the play.
After Valbuena hit the above mentioned seventh inning homer, Steven Souza Jr. responded with a blast into the batter’s eye in centerfield, putting the Rays up by five.
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 16, 2017
Valbuena capped the scoring by hitting his second homer of the night, a two-run shot off Jumbo Diaz in the ninth.
Luis Valbuena drives two-run home run to right, his second jack of the game to cut the Angels’ deficit to 6-3 in the bottom of the 9th!!! pic.twitter.com/tvz1rFPq4Q
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 16, 2017
With action in the bullpen, Diaz retired the next two batters to finish the game and earn the save.
The New What Next
The Rays will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon with their ace, Chris Archer (7-5, 3.95 ERA, 3.16 FIP) on the mound. He’ll be opposed by Parker Bridwell (3–1, 3.24 ERA, 5.81 FIP)
Archer allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks over 6-2/3 innings on Sunday. He struck out eight. The ace was solid for most of the afternoon, with the exceptions of a leadoff homer by Mookie Betts, and a two-run shot by Dustin Pedroia in the seventh inning, costing him a shot at his eighth win of the season. Despite the home run issues, Archer has coaxed whiffs at a high rate, and carried a career-high 10.8 K/9 into the All-Star Break. While he has failed to produce as many shutdown performances as we’ve grown accustomed to this season, Archer has already posted 12 quality starts and will look to be a bit more consistent over the second half.
Per the inimitable Neil Solondz (Rays Radio), Bridwell threw six shutout innings against the Twins his last time out on July 5th. He’s given up three runs or fewer in five of six appearances. However, Bridwell has given up seven homers in 33.1 innings, and has struck out just 19.
Rays 7/16/17 Starting Lineup
— Corey Dickerson broke out of his pre-All Star Break slump with a four hit night, while Shane Peterson had a three hits.
— Wilson Ramos will likely sit out of today’s game after tweaking his left hamstring on Friday when he scored the winning run from first.
— The Rays activated Tim Beckham from the DL after the game, and optioned Taylor Featherston to Triple-A Durham.
— Outstanding ruminations on Arrested Development and Anchorman by BA and DeWayne last night. Also, never forget this gem: