PHILADELPHIA -- Alex Cobb stood in the tunnels of Citizens Bank Park after Tuesday night's 3-2 loss to the Phillies and spoke honestly about the challenges of his -- and the Orioles' -- 2018 season. The Orioles, losers of eight of their last nine, fell to 24-60. Cobb, who signed a four-year, $57 million contract just a few months ago, took his 10th loss of the season.
"It's hard to really communicate what we are feeling to you guys, people in general, even my own family," Cobb said. "It's only really a conversation to have with people that are doing it. Your peers and other pitchers."
But Cobb, who has allowed five or more runs in half of his 14 starts entering Tuesday, pitched some of his best baseball as an Oriole. He surrendered just three earned runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, four of which were 1-2-3 frames. It was walks and timely hitting from the Phillies that cost the O's a chance at a win.
Cobb found some solace in progress without results.
"There is a point in your delivery that everybody tries to get to that really frees you up and allows you to be as aggressive as you want," Cobb said. "And I have been searching for that pretty relentlessly for the last three months and even going back to parts of last year. Tonight was a night that I felt like I got to that point in my delivery a good amount of times.
"Now the next step is to capture that and be able to repeat it over 100 times a night. This is the first step before I can get to that, so I was happy with a lot of the things I did tonight."
Cobb walked Cesar Hernandez with two outs and a man on second in the third inning. Ball three should have been a strike. Ball four skimmed the edge of the zone. Three pitches later, Rhys Hoskins doubled off the left-field wall to give the Phillies their first two runs of the game.
In the fourth, Nick Williams turned a 1-2 count in the fourth into another walk. After Cobb got Scott Kingery to fly out, Andrew Knapp hit a grounder past first base that trickled all the way to the right-field corner for an RBI triple. That ended up being the winning run.
"Tough night to pitch," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "It's raining, sweating, you're trying to grip the baseball. I was impressed with Alex. We just didn't get enough run support for him."
Aside from Mark Trumbo's solo shot in the second inning and a mishandled bloop single in the fourth that got Manny Machado home, the Orioles didn't advance a baserunner against Phils starter Zach Eflin, who posted a 1.76 ERA in June and earned his sixth consecutive win Tuesday.
And when they loaded the bases against the Phillies bullpen in the eighth, a tremendous fielding effort by Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco smothered any potential rally.
Cobb assured that his comments shouldn't be mistaken for satisfaction in losing. Rather, when things are going like they are for the Orioles in 2018, a certain mindset is necessary to navigate a 162-game season.
"We absolutely are [trying to win] every single night," Cobb said. "But we also need to not be so results-oriented. And take the small progressions that we're making and get better. You know, if we want to compete later on this year or next year, we have to get better, each and every one of us. You know it stinks that we went away with a loss. Gave up a few runs that I didn't want to. But tonight I need to think about where I got to, and that's going to get me to become more successful later on this year and into next year."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The O's out-hit the Phillies, 7-5, but couldn't get the clutch hits the Phillies did.
They loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth inning. Chris Davis sent a grounder the opposite way only to have it snagged by a diving Franco. The third baseman then threw from his knees to an outstretched Carlos Santana to get Davis at first. The O's challenged, as it appeared Satana's foot may have come off the bag, but the play stood as called.
"Chris put a pretty good at-bat on," Showalter said. "They made a good play. I'm still not sure. I don't think anybody knows for sure if anybody's on the bag or not. They're not going to overturn that, not enough evidence. We had a lot of other chances."
Hernandez threw Jonathan Schoop's ninth-inning ground ball into the first-base camera well and put the tying run in scoring position with one out. But Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez struck out Chance Sisco and Jace Peterson to end the game.
Despite his struggles this season, Cobb has fared much better in Interleague play. Tuesday was his fifth Interleague start; he's thrown a quality start in four of them, posting a 3.48 ERA in those starts.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Trumbo clobbered Eflin's first pitch of the second inning to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead on his 11th home run of the season. Eflin didn't allow a home run during the entire month of June. The solo shot, which took just 4.7 seconds to travel a projected 442 feet, left Trumbo's bat at 113.1 mph, according to Statcast™. It was his hardest hit home run of the season and second-hardest since the start of 2017.
HE SAID IT
"You have to try to take something positive home every night. Sometimes it can be kind of hard to find something, but in his case today, he threw the ball really well. Looked like he commanded all three pitches. They scored a couple runs there, but [Cobb] took us deep into the game, and we had a chance to win." -- Trumbo
Yefry Ramirez makes his second Major League start during Wednesday's 4:05 p.m. ET series finale at Citizens Bank Park. Ramirez last pitched in the Majors on Thursday, tossing five scoreless innings against the Mariners. He owns a 3.88 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A Norfolk. The O's will face Phillies ace Aaron Nola (10-2, 2.48 ERA), who appears to be an All-Star lock.