Cobb struck out a season-high 11 batters and limited the Astros
to three hits while pitching into the seventh inning of the Rays'
6-1 victory at Minute Maid Park.
Cobb (2-4) allowed just five baserunners before departing with one
out in the seventh. The Astros (31-38) managed two baserunners in
the second and fourth inning, but Cobb remained in complete control,
deftly using a splendid changeup to steady his inconsistent fastball
"He's got possibly one of the best, top three changeups in the
American League, maybe in baseball," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
"When Cobber's right, he's one of the best pitchers in the game. ...
I'll put him up against anybody.
"When the fastball, curveball and changeup are working, he is as
good as it gets. He's one of the best-kept secrets nationally. This
guy is all of that. That ERA is going to keep coming down.
Strikeouts are going to stay up there and the win total is going to
The Rays (26-42) snapped a 10-game road losing skid behind Cobb and
an offense that is seeking to build momentum after coming alive
against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
Astros right-hander Collin McHugh (4-4) took the brunt of the
onslaught, with the Rays adding two insurance runs against
right-hander Kyle Farnsworth in the ninth.
Cobb combined with right-handed relievers Brad Boxberger and Joel
Peralta for 16 strikeouts, the highest total against the Astros this
"This baseball season is way too long to think you're not going to
run into nights like this," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "The best
thing you can do is put it behind you and move on to the next day
and tip your cap to the guy who threw one great game tonight. And
show up tomorrow ready to play."
Having allowed 16 earned runs over his last three starts and 15 1/3
innings, Cobb rediscovered the form that carried him through three
consecutive scoreless outings bridging April and May and a stint on
the disabled list with a left oblique strain.
Cobb struck out the side in the first inning and worked around a
pair of two-out baserunners in the second.
He retired the side in order in the third and fifth innings and
negotiated a difficult fourth inning that began when Astros first
baseman Jon Singleton cranked his fourth home run of the season, an
opposite-field shot to left that cut the Rays' lead to 2-1.
Otherwise, Cobb was stellar in taking another step in his fifth
start since his return from the DL.
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"You go borderline crazy after bad starts," Cobb said. "You start
running your mechanics through your mind thousands of times and it
keeps you up at night sometimes. It feels good to come out and see
that your adjustments paid off. It's to the point right now where
I'm thinking about doing it, and I need to get to the point where
it's just a natural habit."
The Rays relied on extra-base pop to chase McHugh after five
innings. McHugh surrendered five hits, all for extra bases --
including two doubles in the second inning and a two-run triple to
Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist in the fifth.
Rays left fielder Matt Joyce drove in two runs with his one-out
double in the second for a 2-0 advantage.
"Not very good," McHugh said of his command. "I think anyone
watching the game could see that. My fastball wasn't very good, so I
had to throw a lot more breaking balls and changeups. That's not me
as a pitcher. It's not what I do best. I was not happy with my
fastball command tonight."
NOTES: Astros 2B Jose Altuve was not in the lineup and missed his
second game this week (and second of the season) after being hit by
a pitch on the right hand Thursday night. Subsequent X-rays were
negative and Altuve is considered day to day with lingering
soreness. ... The Astros recalled RHP Josh Zeid from Triple-A
Oklahoma City and optioned LHP Rudy Owens to the RedHawks. Owens did
not make an appearance with the Astros after his recall from
Oklahoma City on June 8. ... Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson allowed four
runs, six hits and one walk with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings of
a rehab start for Triple-A Durham on Thursday night. Hellickson was
placed on the 15-day disabled list March 30 after offseason elbow
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