BY: John Mamola
Alex Cobb was stellar across the border as the Tampa Bay Rays overcome late bullpen troubles to grab the second game of the divisional three game set with a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. For the second straight game, Cobb pitched an identical 6 1/3 innings allowing a run on three hits. Only this time around, Cobb gets the win added to his stat line, his fifth win in nine starts this year.
Some early offense from the Rays was key for Cobb in grabbing the ‘w’ in his first start at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Evan Longoria led off the Rays half of the second inning with his 14th double of the season only to advance to third on a ground out by Ben Zobrist. Luke Scott drove in Longoria on a ground out to third base with the shift on by the Blue Jays defense. The Rays had an early 1-0 lead.
The very next batter didn’t waste time adding to that lead as Kelly Johnson blasted a solo home run into the deepest part of Rogers Centre. The former Blue Jays’ eighth home run of the season put the Rays ahead 2-0 after two innings.
The Rays added two more runs in the top half of the third inning as Desmond Jennings blasted his fifth home run of the year on the first pitch of the inning. The Rays had a commanding lead at 3-0 when Luke Scott drove in his second RBI of the game on a single to center putting Tampa Bay up 4-0.
Alex Cobb’s lone mistake pitch came in the bottom of the fifth inning as Colby Rasmus blasted his seventh home run of the year deep into the right center field stands. Although Rasmus’ ball had difficulty finding a landing spot for reportedly a number of minutes, the Rays still led 4-1.
The Rays bullpen once again struggled in the later innings as Joel Peralta allowed a single to the first batter he faced in the eighth inning, then walking Melky Cabrera to give Jose Bautista a chance to tie the game. Bautista blasted a single to right center scoring Munenori Kawasaki from second to make it 4-2 Rays. Peralta bounced back with a big strikeout of Edwin Encarnacion for the first out of the inning leaving things up to Adam Lind.
Lind ended up hitting a ground ball to second base which was on tap for a sure fire double play ball. However Ryan Roberts bobbled the ball and was unable to make a good toss to second for at least one out. In the end, everyone was safe and the bases were loaded for J.P. Arencibia.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon decided to bring in closer Fernando Rodney for the challenge of gathering a five out save. The first two of those five outs came in a one pitch double play turned by the Rays defense to end the eighth inning threat by Toronto.
Rodney would run into trouble in the ninth with one out, Colby Rasmus hit a ground rule double to get a runner on for Toronto. Rasmus was moved over to third on a ground out by Macier Izturis, and then scored on a wild pitch by Fernando Rodney to make it 4-3. Rodney finished his night with a walk of Kawasaki just to make things even more interesting, but then struck out Melky Cabrera on three straight pitches to end the game.
Alex Cobb gets the win going 6 1/3 innings pitched. 39 year old Ramon Ortiz is handed the loss as he was pulled after only 2 1/3 innings pitched allowing all four Rays runs on six hits. Fernando Rodney notches his ninth save of the season.
The Rays will wrap up their road trip tomorrow with a late afternoon rubber match against Toronto. Tampa Bay will send Jeremy Hellickson against Mark Buehrle for the Blue Jays. Catch all the action on 620am/95.3 FM WDAE beginning at 4:00pm with the pre-game, and a 4:37pm first pitch.