BALTIMORE -- After a slow start offensively, Tampa Bay Rays scored four runs against former teammate Alex Cobb (2-14) & used four pitchers to defeat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 in the first of a four game series. The win improved the Rays to three games over .500 (53-50). And the one run win was the Rays 10th one run win in their last 14 games.
Cobb, facing his former team for the third time this year opened the game by throwing back to back 1-2-3 innings in the first two innings, throwing 13 pitches in each inning. Tampa Bay was able to get a base-runner on in the top of the third on a walk by outfielder Mallex Smith but he was caught stealing to end the inning.
Rays opener Hunter Wood bettered Cobb’s 1-2-3 top of the first inning with a 10-pitch 1-2-3 inning of his own. Wood got the first two outs in the second but Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini got the game’s first hit, an infield single, then Wood walked designated hitter Danny Valencia on four pitches. And with two Orioles on, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash went to his second pitcher of the night, rookie lefty Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough (9-4), who got the win, initially struggled, walking the first batter he faced, but with the bases loaded Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph flew out to deep left to end the inning.
Tampa Bay centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier got the visitors their first hit of the game, a lead-off double to deep centerfield. Kiermaier took third on a groundout, and then scored on a run-scoring single by leftfielder Jake Bauers. And after Bauers took second on another groundout, he scored when designated hitter Ji-Man Choi hit a groundball that found its way past the Orioles infielders & into leftfield, allowing Bauers to score & give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
The Rays had a chance in the fifth add to their lead when newly acquired rookie catcher Michael Perez got his first major league hit, a one-out double & Smith got an infield single, putting runners on the corners. But Kiermaier hit a one-hop groundball, up the middle, right at former Rays shortstop Tim Beckham, who stepped on second then threw out Kiermaier, ending the Rays scoring chance.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles didn’t waste their chance to get on the scoreboard & tie the game up. Beckham walked to lead off the inning & second baseman Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run home run into the seats in leftfield, tying the score at 2.
Cobb followed the Orioles two run inning with a shutdown inning in the top of the sixth, throwing just 9 pitches to send the Rays down 1-2-3. But the Rays ended Cobb’s night in the top of the seventh when Choi hit a ground rule double to left-centerfield that appeared to go over the wall & went through the hands of a fan. But after the Rays requested the umpires take a look at the play, replay upheld the umpires’ initial call. And after a single by Wendle got Choi to third, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria singled to left, giving the Rays the lead again.
Tampa Bay added another run in the seventh on an error by Orioles pitcher Jhan Marinez, who threw wildly to first after fielding a comebacker off the bat of third baseman Matt Duffy. The inning ended on that same play when Smith, trying to score, was thrown out at home by Orioles first baseman Chris Davis.
Davis added a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth off Rays reliever Sergio Romo. But Austin Pruitt relieved Romo, after two long fly ball outs after the Davis home run & struck out third baseman Jace Peterson. Then with the Rays leading 4-3, Pruitt worked a 1-2-3 9th inning to record the save.
The Rays will go for their third straight win overall on Friday night when the two teams play the second game of the four game series. Rays righty Chris Archer (3-4 4.30) goes up against righty Andrew Cashner (2-9 4.40) with Steve Carney & The Inside Pitch beginning our coverage at 6pm. And first pitch scheduled for 7:10pm.