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Cobb takes step forward in first start off DL

Right-hander had to leave early with high pitch count but feels healthy
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Normally Alex Cobb would have been in a different mood following a short outing against the Blue Jays. Thursday afternoon, the right-hander understood that he made strides, and that should bode well going forward.

Cobb returned to the rotation after a stint on the 10-day disabled list with turf toe on his right big toe, earning a no-decision in the Rays' 2-0 win, Cobb's first start since Aug. 5. He allowed no runs on four hits and a walk and fanned five in 4 1/3 innings.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Normally Alex Cobb would have been in a different mood following a short outing against the Blue Jays. Thursday afternoon, the right-hander understood that he made strides, and that should bode well going forward.

Cobb returned to the rotation after a stint on the 10-day disabled list with turf toe on his right big toe, earning a no-decision in the Rays' 2-0 win, Cobb's first start since Aug. 5. He allowed no runs on four hits and a walk and fanned five in 4 1/3 innings.

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"I'm not usually coming out of a game where I only went 4 1/3 innings too pleased," Cobb said. "But given the circumstances, feeling the way I felt out there, I know I can hone that all in and take care of business when I get a little bit more repetitions throughout the week."

Cobb's pitch count mandated his early exit. He threw 94 pitches, of which just 53 were strikes.

"I thought Alex did a good job of competing," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He felt good, which was most important. Pitch count got driven up in the first inning, and we hate to give a number on anything, but we need to manage his workload given that he had 18-19 days off, whatever it was."

Video: TOR@TB: Cash talks win over the Blue Jays

Cobb said that he felt great throughout his outing.

"Just with overall health and liveliness of the way the ball was coming out of my hand," Cobb said. "It was unfortunate because I wasn't really able to control that in the zone. Took a lot of deep counts.

"I know there was only the one walk, but I don't know how many 3-2 counts there were, but it definitely felt like every batter it was just about as many balls I could throw to them, I did. Fortunately, when I did get into those counts, I was able to execute the pitches and get them out."

Cobb has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his past 12 starts after doing that in his first 12 starts.

The Rays are fighting to remain in the hunt in the American League Wild Card race. So having Cobb make a successful return means everything for the coming pursuit.

Cobb sounded ready for what lies ahead after crossing Thursday's bridge.

"I'll take it for the first time back," Cobb said. "Like I said, I was going to feel a little bit rusty, but that was just not a good recipe for team success going down the road. Thankfully we had some good performances from the entire bullpen, it seemed like, and hopefully we'll have some big outings from the starters down the stretch these next few games to give them a little bit of a breather."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Alex Cobb