The Rays’ opener pitching strategy was effective, but Oriole starter Alex Cobb was a bit better. In his first start at Tropicana Field since leaving the Rays, Cobb pitched a gem. Unfortunately though, Baltimore’s bullpen and defense let them down in the end.
Tyler Glasnow started the game throwing gas for the Rays. Oriole leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar saw six pitches but struck out on a 99 mph fastball. The next two O’s went down too, with the side retired in order on a total of 14 pitches.
Cobb wasn’t so lucky with his start to the game. The Rays put runners on the corners with no outs after a single to left, a wild pitch and a single to right. Then first baseman Jake Bauers drove in the first run of the game with a ground ball single to the right of first baseman Chris Davis.
Cobb was able to put out that fire by retiring the next three batters — foul out, ground out, strikeout. He would work in and out of trouble a lot in the early going.
The Rays’ Glasnow came back out for the top of the second and fanned all three Oriole hitters in succession. The 6 foot 8 right-hander was making the Rays’ opener strategy look good. Coasting through the Orioles lineup the first time around, including a scoreless third, he was clearing the way for a piggy-back starter to enter the game mid-innings.
Somewhat surprisingly, Glasnow came back out for the fourth inning. He was past the common cutoff point for an opener and had a pitch count of 48. And right on cue, Tim Beckham blasted a home run to left center field on the second pitch he saw, a fastball right down the middle. Brand new ballgame, 1-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, Cobb had runners on first and second with two outs before an amazing play by Renato Nunez at third. He dove to his left to snag a hard hit grounder and threw to first from one knee, with Davis making an impressive stretch on the back end to ensure the putout.
On the other hand, Glasnow’s night ended after four innings, two hits, one earned run (a solo home run), no walks and nine strikeouts. On this night he flashed his potential and showed why the Rays sought his inclusion in the Chris Archer trade.
Jaime Schultz started the fifth inning and allowed a solo home run to right field off the bat of Trey Mancini, giving the Orioles their first lead of the night, 2-1. Cobb then had his first clean inning — three up, three down — in the bottom half of the fifth.
The Orioles made some noise in the sixth against Schultz, putting runners on second and third with no outs after a Beckham walk and an Adam Jones double. Then one of the Orioles’ hottest hitters, Mark Trumbo, came to the plate.
He reached first on a sharp ground ball past a drawn in infield and Beckham scored the O’s third run. Chris Davis followed with a strikeout, his third of the game in three at-bats. Schultz escaped further damage in the sixth by inducing a double play from Mancini.
Left-hander Adam Kolarek, Catonsville high school alum, was the third pitcher of the game for the Rays. He started the seventh inning, set to face the bottom third of the O’s order. Three batters and one double play later, the inning was over. Villar got a leadoff double the next inning off of Kolarek, but he was eventually thrown out at home on a ground ball to third, squandering a pivotal chance for an insurance run.
Cobb ended the night after seven innings and one earned run. He retired the last 10 batters he faced in a row, allowing five hits overall with two walks and three strikeouts.
Evan Phillips, acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the Kevin Gausman deal, came on to pitch the eighth. In his lone appearance for the O’s since being called up on August 3rd, Phillips threw two perfect innings with three strikeouts in Texas.
He walked the first batter he saw in the eighth, Mallex Smith, and Matt Duffy reached when Davis fielded a grounder at first and threw the ball into left field while trying to start a double play. The error would prove costly, leading to two unearned runs later in the inning.
After a walk to Bauers to load the bases, the Rays shortened the O’s lead to one after a wild pitch allowed Smith to stroll home. After Phillips surrendered his third walk of the inning to reload the bases, manager Buck Showalter had seen enough, summoning left-hander Paul Fry from the bullpen. He was able to get a ground ball double play, but the tying run scored and it was a brand new ballgame, 3-3.
The Rays would end this one in dramatic fashion. Down to their last out in regulation, after back to back strikeouts by Fry in the bottom of the ninth, the Rays got a walk-off home run from Willy Adames off of Miguel Castro.
Just like that, a solid start by Alex Cobb was wasted and the Orioles lost the series opener to Tampa by one run. Baltimore’s road record is now 14-44. They will look to bounce back tomorrow when Andrew Cashner takes the mound.