Cobb’s gem leads Rays in a 1-0 victory over Sox

by Gary Shelton on July 9, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Fan reaches out to contragulate Cobb on his gem./CARMEN MANDATO

Cobb receives congratulations on his gem./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 3 a.m.

On a day like this, it isn't that hard to see the Tampa Bay Rays making a run at the post-season. Really, it isn't.

A year ago, such a statement would make observers roll their eyes and shake their heads. But after the Rays' 1-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox, all things seem possible. With pitching like this, with defense like this, with hitting -- well, like on another night — it's easy to consider the Rays as bona fide.

Alex Cobb was flawless on Saturday, throwing 7 2/3 innings of two-hit baseball. (And both of the hits were kind of feeble, to be honest). Cobb has thrown

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Hechavarria's glove was big for the Rays on Saturday./CARMEN MANDATO

Hechavarria's glove was big for the Rays on Saturday./CARMEN MANDATO thrown shutout ball in two of his last three starts, and he's certainly in the lead as the best pitcher on the staff.

shutout ball in two of his last three starts, and he's certainly in the lead as the best pitcher on the staff.

Cobb made a second-inning sacrifice fly by Jesus Sucre (driving in Steven Souza Jr.) stand up in the victory.

“Just an exciting game,” Cobb said. “There are so many good things to point out from tonight. What the defense was able to do behind me. Hechy is making

Sucre drove in the game's only run with a sacrifice fly./CARMEN MANDATO

Sucre drove in the game's only run with a sacrifice fly./CARMEN MANDATO

probably two of the top 10 plays of the night for SportsCenter. Sucre coming up with a big RBI and the way he was able to handle the game calling behind the plate. It was just fun walking off the mound at the end and hearing the fans.”

Cobb gave up an infield single to Xander Bogaerts in the first and a soft single to center to Mookie Betts in the third, but controlled the AL East-leading lineup for most of the day.

“Their guy (Rick Porcello) was outstanding,” Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. “Our guy was just a tick better. Alex set the tone. We knew we needed a big start out of him. I think Alex was pretty driven today simply because of the fact that he had an opportunity in his last start to come up with a big start in Baltimore. Things didn’t go our way and he came out and did everything. He made pitches, he got the split going, got some outs on that. The curveball and the fastball. Just an outstanding performance by him.”

Over his last 6 starts, Cobb is 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA, bringing his season ERA from

Souza Jr. singles to right.He would score the game's only run./CARMEN MANDATO

Souza Jr. singles to right.He would score the game's only run./CARMEN MANDATO

4.52 to 3.75. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his six starts. It was the third time in his career Cobb has won a 1-0 game.

Was this his best outing of the year? Possibly.

“It’s got to be right up there,” Cash said. “I’d have to go back and look. He’s had some strong performances without a doubt. To do it here in this environment against Boston. We talked about it pregame today on the radio, Alex is a different pitcher than when he faced them earlier this year. I think he was still working through some mechanical thoughts and trying to get the right pitch mix that he wanted to use to allow him to have success. I know he’s found that and now he goes out there and just competes by putting the other stuff behind him.”

Cobb had a great deal of help defensively, including two highlight plays from shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. He also was backed by strong plays from Evan Longoria, Brad Miller and a sliding catch from outfielder Shane Peterson.

Colome made fans nervous, but he saved his 24th game./CARMEN MANDATO

Colome made fans nervous, but he saved his 24th game./CARMEN MANDATO

For Hechavarria, it was another game in a series that demonstrates what a steal the team got when they acquired him from Miami.

“Those plays don't get made,” Cobb said. “It's not real. When you're on the mound, it's like you've won the Lotto. It is just an out, but it's so much more than tha.t”

Hechavarria said he's done it before.

“It wasn’t a surprise because I’ve made that play before. The main difference this year is my glove. I’m using a smaller glove this season so it was amazing to make

Smith scrambles back to first after his single./CARMEN MANDATO

Smith scrambles back to first after his single./CARMEN MANDATO

that play with my smaller glove.

“I don’t practice those plays. When I’m playing defense, I want to take over. I want to be the guy who makes the big plays. I want to help the team win. And you guys saw it today.”

The Rays survived another nail-biter with closer Alex Colome, who got four outs for his 24th save. But he had runners on second-and-third with one out, and the bases loaded with two before striking out Hanley Ramirez and getting Chris Young on a pop-out.

The Rays play the Red Sox today at 1:10 at the Trop before breaking for the all-star game. Chris Archer pitches for the Rays against former Tampa Bay star David Price.

Morrison makes a play in the first inning./CARMEN MANDATO

Morrison makes a play in the first inning./CARMEN MANDATO

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