ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Cobb looked primed to notch his fourth career complete game Friday night.But unfortunately for the Rays, the decision by Rays manager Kevin Cash to leave him in for the ninth backfired, as Cobb allowed the game-tying homer before the Rangers went on to a 4-3 win in
ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Cobb looked primed to notch his fourth career complete game Friday night.
But unfortunately for the Rays, the decision by Rays manager Kevin Cash to leave him in for the ninth backfired, as Cobb allowed the game-tying homer before the Rangers went on to a 4-3 win in extras in the opening game of a weekend series at Tropicana Field.
Not since Matt Andriese threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout against the Athletics on May 14, 2016, has a Rays pitcher gone the distance. But if anybody was going to pull off the feat, Cobb was the guy.
The Rays right-hander had shown steady improvement throughout the season, nearing the form that made him the ace of the staff prior to his 2015 Tommy John surgery. On June 27, he threw eight scoreless innings against the Pirates en route to a no-decision. And he'd gone 7 2/3 innings in his previous two starts against the Red Sox and Angels.
So when he carried a 3-1 lead into the ninth with just 96 pitches on his ledger, Cash gave him the nod to go for it. Cobb allowed that he wasn't surprised he got the chance.
"I was at 96 pitches, the ninth inning, a two-run lead, Mallex [Smith] had a big home run for us there [in the bottom of the eighth], absolutely no doubt in my mind that I should go back out there and fortunately Cash has a lot of faith in me," Cobb said.
Cash explained the move.
"After the second or third inning, the hard contact went away," Cash said. "I was confident [in] the way he was throwing the ball. Super efficient again. I had the confidence for him to go back out there and get three more outs for us."
But the inning got off to a bad start when the first batter Cobb faced, Joey Gallo, doubled to right. Shin-Soo Choo then stepped to the plate. Cobb threw an 87.1-mph changeup on the first pitch, which Choo connected with, and driving an opposite-field homer 382 feet to tie the score. Choo's barreled blast had an exit velocity of 105.5 mph with a 23-degree launch angle.
"When things are going -- not easily, but you're in a groove and you're able to make pitches routinely and back to back over the course of a game -- sometimes, I don't want to say [you] lose focus but you take for granted it's going to be there and you don't really run the pitch through your mind, execute it, finish it," Cobb said. "And that's what happened with that changeup. It was coming to me good throughout the game and I envisioned throwing it down and away and him rolling over it and getting a quick out. It stayed up and he hit it well."
Cash removed Cobb from the game after Choo's home run, leaving Cobb with a no-decision.
"That was probably the most upset I've been walking off the mound in a long time, but I was given an opportunity there by Cash to go shut the door and I just didn't execute a few pitches in a row and it turned south quick," Cobb said.
Cobb felt bad for his manager.
"There's going to be a lot of blame on him for sure, but that is completely unfair," Cobb said. "I feel like I should be able to do a better job of making him look like he made the right decision there."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.