The Tampa Bay Rays’ offense is really clicking following a rough
patch last month. Alex Cobb could have used that kind of support
the last time he took the ball.
The rookie right-hander makes his first start against the
Oakland Athletics on Saturday night at Tropicana Field, where the
Rays try to extend their longest winning streak since June to
Since hitting .225 and averaging 3.3 runs during a 4-11 stretch
from July 9-27 that saw them fade from contention in the AL East,
the Rays (59-52) are scoring 6.6 runs per game while winning six of
Tampa Bay pounded out 14 hits in Friday’s 8-4 series-opening
victory and has scored seven or more runs in a season-best three
“They’ve put up great at-bats recently and hopefully we can keep
it going,” starter Jeff Niemann said after going 8 2-3 innings.
The Rays, though, matched a season low with one hit – an RBI
single by Ben Zobrist – in a 3-2 loss at Seattle last Saturday when
Cobb (3-1, 2.79 ERA) suffered his first major league defeat.
The 23-year-old right-hander, who has a 1.86 ERA in three starts
since last being called up July 18, struck out a season-best nine
against the Mariners, giving up three runs and six hits over 6 1-3
“Throughout a game, you’re going to make some bad pitches. I
just felt like today when I made some bad pitches, they really
capitalized on them,” Cobb told the Rays’ official website.
Cobb will try to help the Rays continue their longest winning
streak since a four-game run June 22-26. He’ll face an A’s team
that’s lost 30 of 37 on the road after dropping to 0-4 on its
“It just feels like, to me, we’re more aggressive at home,”
interim manager Bob Melvin said. “It seems like on the road, maybe
we’re a little passive.”
Trying to avoid its first five-game skid since a season-worst
0-10 stretch May 30-June 9, Oakland (49-63) will counter with
Brandon McCarthy (4-5, 3.58).
The right-hander has been effective in four starts since the
All-Star break, going 3-0 with a 3.70 ERA. He fanned a season-best
nine in six innings of Sunday’s 7-3 win over Minnesota.
“I thought he had good stuff the whole game,” Melvin said.
McCarthy had one of his best starts of the season last week
versus Tampa Bay, going eight strong innings in a 6-1 home win July
26. He is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in seven career starts against the
Tampa Bay first baseman Casey Kotchman, 6 for 12 with a double
off McCarthy, is batting .414 (12 for 29) with a homer and four
RBIs in his last seven contests after posting his third straight
two-hit game Friday.
B.J. Upton, who matched a season high with three hits in the
series opener, has three hits and six strikeouts in 12 at-bats
against McCarthy. The Rays center fielder has tripled in
back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
After being diagnosed with Bell’s palsy on Monday, A’s shortstop
Cliff Pennington had an RBI triple in the series opener in his
first game back. He is 8 for 17 against Rays pitching in 2011.
Teammate Hideki Matsui will try to extend his hitting streak to
14 after going 2 for 4 with a solo homer Friday. He’s batting .529
(27 for 51) during the run.