After nearly two years, pitcher Alex Cobb has another win, and the Orioles got their first of the 2020 season.
Cobb, who missed nearly all of 2019 after hip and knee surgeries, won for the first time since September 4, 2018, allowing one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings in the Orioles’ 7-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday in Boston.
After their horrible 13-2 loss in the Friday night opener, the Orioles bounced back on the mound and at the plate.
They scored three runs in the first — the key hit a two-run, two-out double by Renato Nunez — and two more in the second. They added two more in the seventh after the Red Sox had closed to 5-2 in the sixth before reliever Miguel Castro struck out Xander Bogaerts with two on for the key out of the game.
“There’s no feeling like … giving every single one of your teammates a high-five or a fist pound, thanking them for working behind you,” Cobb said. “Them telling you how nice it was to play behind you.”
Cobb said he didn’t forget how nice it was to win, but he wasn’t sure when his last win came.
“It’s one of my favorite feelings in the game,” he said. “It’s just something I’ve been wanting to have for a long time. I never forget that feeling. I love it.”
Seven of the Orioles’ 10 hits came from the top three players in the lineup. Hanser Alberto had three hits, leadoff hitter Austin Hays and José Iglesias, who hits third, had two.
“It’s no secret, I like guys that make contact,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “All three of those guys are going to give you a competitive at-bat. They’re in there for the fight.”
Alberto had praise for Cobb, whose only run came on a Mitch Moreland home run with one out in the sixth.
“He had pretty good command,” Alberto said. “He kept the game always under control and allowed us to get to the dugout and breathe. He kept the ball on the ground.”
Cobb and four relievers — Paul Fry, Castro, Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens — didn’t walk a batter a night after Oriole pitchers walked seven.
It was Cobb’s first win since Hyde began as Orioles manager in 2019.
“Huge for us,” Hyde said. “I think it’s going to be a big boost getting [John] Means back, but the two guys that have really had success in this division … to have that is really nice.”
Cobb could get multiple starts at home when the Orioles begin an eight-game homestand on Wednesday. He’s yet to win at Camden Yards as an Oriole, but he was satisfied with his win at Fenway.
“It’s a very small step in that journey,” Cobb said. “There’s been a lot of work put into this journey, post-surgery rehab by a lot of people. Really thankful to everybody that’s helped me along this way. It’s nice to see results.”
Means on track to start Thursday: John Means, whose Opening Day start on Friday was delayed because of arm fatigue, thinks he’ll be ready to start Thursday against Miami.
“My arm feels great right now,” Means said in a video conference call from Bowie on Saturday. “It has for the past five, six days or so.”
He was disappointed that he was unable to pitch the opener.
“I just had a little tweak there in my last outing,” Means said. “For precautionary reasons, we slow-played it … It would have been a dream come true to pitch Opening Day at Fenway Park.”
In Means’ last instrasquad game on July 15, his discomfort was noticeable to Hyde and pitching coach Doug Brocail.
“It was taking longer than it should have to warm up,” he said. “Being honest with them is hard … how competitive I am. I wanted to pitch Opening Day. That was my goal. That was my dream.”
At this time last year, Means went on the injured list. He said what he felt last week was similar to what he felt in 2019.
“It’s so minor, it’s nothing structural,” Means said. “It was my biceps for the most part, just having some knots in it. The quick start probably had something to do with it. It’s hard to come back and start throwing four, five, six innings.
“It’s going to happen. I was just hoping it wasn’t going to happen to me … We’re learning how to kick it out of it. Thankfully, it’s not anything too serious at all … I should be good to go for the rest of the year. I really don’t think this is going to come up again.”
Harvey won’t join Means: Reliever Hunter Harvey won’t be activated with Means when he’s eligible to come off the 10-day injured list on Thursday. Harvey is sidelined by a right forearm strain.
“He’s still in a progression,” Hyde said. “He’s going to start playing catch, hopefully soon, and it’s going to be monitoring and a bullpen and probably a sim game or two. I don’t think we have the timetable on him. I think we’re just watching him. He is progressing. It is getting better. Hopefully, he starts playing catch soon.”
Phillips makes in-season comeback: If the season had begun in March, relief pitcher Evan Phillips would have started on the injured list because of a right elbow injury.
During spring training, Phillips had his right elbow examined and was told to rest for an extended period.
“I had never dealt with an elbow injury before,” Phillips said. “I had really had no idea. What I was experiencing was new. It was a different kind of pain, a different kind of intolerance when I was throwing, and I was really struggling with how I was throwing. I was worried I would need surgery.”
After resting and working hard on his rehab during the 3 ½ months off, Phillips made the active roster.