ANAHEIM -- It was Angels right-hander Alex Cobb's first start at Angel Stadium in more than two months, but he looked right at home against the Astros on Thursday night.
Cobb, making his first home start since July 17, threw 5 2/3 strong innings, allowing one run on four hits and three walks in a 3-2 victory. It was his second start since missing seven weeks with right wrist inflammation, but he’s given up just one run over 10 2/3 innings in his return from the injury.
"Pretty strong," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "I try to avoid comparisons, but he looks very similar to when I had him in Tampa Bay [with a 3.28 ERA in 498 2/3 innings from 2011-14]. There's no difference. The velocity is the same. When that split is on, it's devastating. He's competitive and he's a great athlete. I don't know what the future holds for him or what his intentions are, but what I saw the last two times, it's what I saw in the past.”
Cobb has looked solid when healthy this season, as the 10-year veteran has posted a 3.46 ERA with 93 strikeouts, 31 walks and three homers allowed across 88 1/3 innings in 17 starts. He’s been especially effective in eight outings at Angel Stadium, going 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 48 2/3 innings.
Cobb, 33, is set to be a free agent after the season and has already expressed interest in returning to the club. The Angels’ top priority this winter will be to improve their pitching staff, and Cobb has shown he’s still effective, so there’s a real chance he could remain with the Halos beyond this year.
"I've loved every minute since the second they called me in the offseason and told me I was coming over to now," Cobb said. "Everybody's treated me with just so much respect and kindness. And I've always been a huge fan of Joe. He gave me my first chance when I was 23 years old, and he gave me another chance at 33 to bring me over here. And I've really enjoyed the fan base."
Cobb, though, acknowledged it’ll be up to the front office and general manager Perry Minasian.
“It’s not something I really have insight into,” Cobb said. “I think we've developed a good enough relationship to have casual conversations. But I don't know what their plans are or what my plans are. But I think Perry and I have a good enough relationship that we'll communicate."
Cobb opened with three straight perfect innings against the Astros before giving up an infield single to Jose Siri with one out in the fourth. Cobb couldn’t handle a comebacker that hit off his glove, and he was visibly irritated with himself after the play. Cobb then allowed a single to Alex Bregman and walked Kyle Tucker to load the bases. But he escaped the jam by striking out Yuli Gurriel and getting Carlos Correa to ground out to short.
“It was really big getting the strikeout for the second out,” Cobb said. “And I was able to get Correa with not a great changeup, but one with enough movement on it running horizontally to get him to ground out."
Cobb pitched around a leadoff single and a stolen base in the fifth, but he ran into trouble again in the sixth after recording two quick outs to open the frame. He walked Tucker on a 3-2 splitter and Tucker promptly stole second base and reached third on a wild pitch. After a walk from Gurriel, Correa ended Cobb’s night with an RBI single to center on his 93rd pitch to tie the game at 1. Reliever Austin Warren came in with two runners on and got Chas McCormick to ground out to end the inning.
Warren returned for a scoreless seventh and was later credited with the win thanks to an Angels rally in the bottom of the sixth. Third baseman Jack Mayfield continued to torment his former club, as he ripped a go-ahead two-run double. Mayfield, who played with the Astros from 2019-20, also homered against them on Tuesday and hit a three-run double on Wednesday.
"He shows up," Maddon said. "There's more power in the bat than I knew. He's been taking good at-bats. Last night, he hit one down the right-field line, and you saw what he did tonight. He's a survivor, and there's precedent for those types of players."