Update: RHP Alex Cobb has been placed on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain. Read below for more on the injury, and we’ll have more on this as the news breaks.
The skinny: Alex Cobb came out victorious in Saturday’s pitching duel against Alfredo Simon, while James Loney provided all the offense the Rays would need. The Rays walked away from the Reds’ home Saturday afternoon with their second series win of the season.
Cobb was brilliant, throwing seven innings of four hit ball. He didn’t walk a single batter while he struck out four — all on 87 pitches (59 strikes). Don’t be deceived, Cobb wasn’t removed from the game because there wasn’t any gas left in the tank. His day was ended early because the Rays needed to tack on an insurance run, and he was lifted for a pinch hitter to start the eighth inning. And to be fair, Maddon’s plan almost worked. Logan Forsythe doubled to lead off the eighth, but the three hitters that followed failed to bring him in.
Cobb kept the Reds’ hitters off balance with The Thing, his ridiculous split/change. Cobb threw The Thing for strikes 70% of the time, inducing seven whiffs. Watching as he got Billy Hamilton and Brayan Pena to swing at pitches that bounced well before the plate was a thing of beauty.
Loney provided the only run of the game off a 412 foot solo shot to right field, giving the Rays a one run advantage they never relinquish. Tampa Bay went 0-6 wRISP, stranding five men on the base paths (three in scoring position).
The other quality facet of Saturday’s game was the Rays defense, aided by Kevin Kiermaier (who got his first major league start), Ryan Hanigan, and Evan Longoria. And while Kiermaier didn’t pick up a hit, he provided the Rays with a run saving play at the plate.
After Joey Votto hit a wind-aided lead off double in the fifth, Brandon Phillips singled sharply up the middle. Kiermaier fielded the ball and fired it home well ahead of Votto, who attempted to score from second. Then Phillips, who advanced to second on the throw, was gunned down by Ryan Hanigan while attempting to swipe third. Longo made an outstanding diving play on a hard hit liner by Ryan Ludwick in the seventh, robbing the batter of a base hit, while ending the inning. As BA noted in the telecast, the ball off Ludwick’s bat was already in Longoria’s mitt before he even left the batter’s box.
Erik Hahmann of DRaysBay put the win in perspective,
“No matter what happens tomorrow the Rays have won this series by scoring a total of three runs. Not pretty. Certainly not sustainable. But a win is a win and they remain in first place in the division.”
I live blogged the game. Head to our Tumblr page for a blow-by-blow account of Saturday’s contest.
The New What Next
Cesar Ramos will get the start on the bump Sunday, opposite of Tony Cingrani, in the series finale. I can’t help but wonder if this is a real-time audition of sorts for Ramos. Though Bedard was promoted following Saturday’s game, it would be logical for Ramos to be the the heir apparent to the rotation while Moore is on the DL. In this scenario, the left handed Bedard would take Ramos’ place in the bullpen. Just a thought. In any case, you can read about Cingrani in our series preview.
- Breaking: The Rays placed Alex Cobb on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain, and was sent back to St. Pete for an MRI following Saturday’s game. He was seen stretching several times during the contest against the Reds, though he said he was okay. Roger Mooney of the Tribune writes, “If Bedard joins the rotation to replace Cobb, all three pitchers who competed for (the) fifth spot during Spring (Training) will be in the rotation.”
- Jeff Beliveau has been recalled from Triple-A Durham, and will temporarily join the bullpen.
- This will be a true test of the Rays pitching depth, now with Alex Cobb (oblique strain) joining Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson on the disabled list.
- Tampa Bay is now 4-0 in one run games — tallying a whopping nine runs, while averaging 2.25 runs per game (in those games). The Rays are only the seventh AL team in the last 100 years to get two 1-0 wins in their first 12 games of the season. Meanwhile, the Rays pitching staff (starters and relievers) have a combined 2.78 ERA and 3.60 FIP. That is, the pitching staff is doing their part, now it’s up to the hitters to do theirs.
- As I mentioned above, LHP Erik Bedard has been called up from Triple-A. In kind, the Rays optioned Kevin Kiermaier back to Durham.
- The Oakland Athletics have DFA’d OF Sam Fuld. “I guess the one good thing is that I have been bracing myself for it,” Fuld was quoted as saying. Here’s to hope that another team picks up Super Sammy, with the quickness.