ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— It’s been almost unnoticed, but Alex Cobb has turned around his season. Invariably, in the season’s early going, Cobb would pitch poorly, or when he pitched well, the Orioles would offer little support.
In the second half of the season, Cobb has pitched much better. On Tuesday night, he had one of his stronger starts of the season, but couldn’t get the win when the Rays scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth.
The Orioles went on to lose to Tampa Bay, 4-3, on Willy Adames’ home run against Miguel Castro in the bottom of the ninth.
Cobb allowed singles to his first three batters, and base hits in the second and third. He held the Rays hitless in his final four innings and left with a 3-1 lead.
After three starts, Cobb had a frightful 13.11 ERA. It’s down to 5.55, and 2.37 in his last five starts.
“Even when I wasn’t getting the results, I felt like I was progressing,” Cobb said.
“It didn’t show it, but each time I was feeling much more comfortable. There’s times where I lose a little bit of it when I’m out there, but the quality of the pitches I do have are allowing me to compete out there, so I’m able to get by and it really doesn’t hurt me as bad as it was early on. …Every time I walk out there off the mound, I feel like I’m that much closer to regaining the form I’ve been looking for.”
Cobb spent his first six years pitching for Tampa Bay, and it was his first time as a visitor at Tropicana Field.
“I think I was eased into the situation pretty well,” Cobb said. “I was able to face the Rays at home in Baltimore a couple times. That kind of got the weirdness out of the way. And then I was able to come here and not pitch and feel comfortable in the visiting locker room, be in the visiting dugout, throw a bullpen in the visiting bullpen.
“All of those things kind of prepared me for today. It wasn’t that weird for me. Little bit weird being on the game mound because that was the first time I had been back on there in a while. But once the game got rolling, it really wasn’t too odd for me.”
Getting to know the new bullpen
Without Zach Britton and Brad Brach, the Orioles are getting to know their new bullpen.
After Cobb pitched seven excellent innings, manager Buck Showalter went to his bullpen, using two pitchers relatively new to the club, and another, Castro, who isn’t.
Castro came into a tie game with two outs and none on, and Adames ended it with a home run to left.
“Tough loss for the boys tonight,” shortstop Tim Beckham said.
The loss came after a forgettable outing by Evan Phillips, who retired the first six batters he faced Friday night.
This time, Phillips walked three batters. When Matt Duffy hit a potential double play grounder to first after the first walk, Chris Davis threw the ball into left field.
Paul Fry, who has turned into an effective reliever, got five outs, but the tying run scored while his first batter, Carlos Gomez, hit into a double play.
“We’re going to do what’s best for the Orioles long-term,” Showalter said about using young relievers.
“I thought Paul Fry had another really good outing tonight with just one day’s rest. We got a double play ball potentially that we don’t convert. Otherwise, I’d be talking about what a good outing that Evan had except for the command a little bit. That’s a young pitcher. He’ll have a lot of one step forward and two steps backs.”
Craig Gentry went 1-for-2 with a walk in his first rehab game for Double-A Bowie. Gentry’s been on the 10-day disabled list since June 24 because of a fractured rib.
Steve Wilkerson (oblique) came to the game from Sarasota so the Orioles could check on him. He’s expected to go on a rehab assignment shortly.
Pedro Araujo recently had a platelet-rich-plasma shot on his right elbow. Showalter expects him to begin pitching again soon. Araujo has been on the disabled list since Aug. 11, and Showalter thinks he’ll be activated no later than Sept. 1.