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Rays’ Alex Cobb finally makes return to major league baseball

For 716 days, he was an outsider. For almost two years, he was a spectator.

Friday night, Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays was a big-league pitcher again.

Cobb, recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw five effective innings in Friday night’s 8-3 victory over Toronto. Cobb allowed only four hits and two runs in his five innings and struck out the side in the fifth. He retired his last 10 batters.

“Well, I’m happy,” Cobb said. “It started off a little bit shaky, but I feel like that play [in the 1st] that Logan Forsythe made with the shift over to the right a little bit, made a throw across his body and got (Troy Tulowitzki) by a decent amount really settled me down. I remembered I’m working with a big league defense also, and realized I could pitch to contact also so I started being a little more aggressive. I think the game took a turn from that point.

“I was happy in the fact that I felt back to that competitive nature on the mound. I wasn’t being cautious, wasn’t thinking about mechanics, wasn’t thinking about injury possibilities. I was just out there and wanted to get outs. I felt the groove of the game again. I felt quick innings, get off the field, give your guys a chance to handle the sticks a bit and get your team back in the lead.”

The Rays opend the game up with four runs in the eighth inning. Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa made his major league debut for Tampa Bay.

Blake Snell pitches for the Rays today.

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Rays lose another to Red Sox despite good start, rally

The good start is but a memory. The comeback is just a detail.

For the Tampa Bay Rays, the loss is just the latest one.

The Rays dropped an 8-6 decision to the Boston Red Sox Thursday, allowing two runs in the bottom of the eighth to snap a 6-6 tie. The Rays are 20 games under .500 at 56-76 as they return home to face the Blue Jays.

Tampa Bay took a 4-1 lead behind a two-run homer by Logan Forsythe and a solo shot by Logan Morrison, but they couldn’t hold it. Henley Ramirez hit a grand slam in the fifth to give Boston its first lead.

But the Rays came back from being behind 6-4 when Forsythe singled to center.

However, in the bottom of the eighth, Erasmo Ramirez gave up three hits, including a run-scoring single by Aaron Hill and a run-scoring double by Jackie Bradley Jr. for the win.

Forsythe had four RBIs and Kevin Kiermaier had three hits for the Rays.

Ramirez fell to 7-10 with the loss.

For the Rays, Alex Cobb makes his season debut Friday at the Trop against Toronto after returning from injury.

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Boston shows Tampa Bay why it still matters in AL East

Some nights, it isn’t hard to see the difference between the haves and the have-nots.

Yeah, that’s the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, for you who struggle with metaphors.

The Red Sox started pitcher Rick Porcello, who now leads the American League with 18 wins. He allowed only three runs in a 9-4 victory.

The Rays started pitcher Matt Andriese, who lost his sixth decision in his winless 13-game streak. He lasted only four innings and gave up 10 hits and seven runs.

The Red Sox got a home run and a double out of Mookie Betts. He became the third hitter (with Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro) to have 30 home runs in a season before he reached the age of 24.

The Rays didn’t have a home run. Their record when they don’t hit one fell to 8-28. They are now 55-75 on the season.

Brock Holt and Travis Shaw each had three hits for Boston. Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon each had two.

For the Rays, Logan Forsythe, Nick Franklin, Corey Dickerson and Bobby Wilson had two.

The teams play again tonight when Jake Odorizzi pitches against Drew Pomeranz.

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Chris Archer dominant as Tampa Bay clobbers Houston Astros

How good was Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon?

He was good enough, for instance, that he left George Springer of the Houston Astros grumbling on Tampa Bay’s 10-4 victory.

On Archer’s final batter of the day, he struck out Springer after Springer had fouled off five pitches. Springer objected to Archer’s celebration, suggesting that Archer act as if he had struck out someone before, although Archer leads the American League in strikeouts (and losses).

“I think we both got caught up in the heat of the moment,” Archer said. “No hard feelings, no love lost. He’s a really good hitter. I know I was down to my last batter. He had a great at-bat. I was fortunate enough to win that battle.

“We’ve squashed it. We’ve already communicated. I was a little surprised. It was 3-2 he fouled off several pitches. At the same time, we’re both mature.”

Rays’ manager Kevin Cash shrugged off the incident.

“There are a lot of players who react to a lot of things.” Cash said. “It’s become a part of our game.”

Archer could have tied the record of Tanyon Sturtz loss record of 18 for one season with a loss. Instead, he improved to 8-17. He was sharp in the game, raising his record to 8-17. He is 4-6 since the all-star break.

“I pitched much closer to my ability today,” Archer said.

Archer allowed three earned runs on only four hits. Most of the damage came on a two-run homer by Jose Altuve.

The Rays had 15 hits, including three by Evan Longoria and Nick Franklin. The Astros cut the Rays lead to 4-3, but Tampa Bay scored five runs in the eighth on a two-run homer by Matt Duffy and a three-run shot by Corey Dickerson.

Tampa Bay now travels to Boston, where Matt Andriese pitches and Rick Porcello (who is 17-3).

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Rays give up back-to-back homers in ninth to lose to Astros

For a last-place team, most nights end in disappointment.

Still, there are the routine losses, and the wipeouts. There are boring losses. There are losses by the rotation and the batting order.

Then, there are games like this, where the defeat reminds you of the standings.

The Tampa Bay Rays dropped a 5-4 game to the Houston Astros Friday night as closer Alex Colome, the team’s all-star this year, gave up back-to-back homers in the bottom of the ninth to Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis. The Astros entered the ninth with only four hits for the game.

The Rays had rallied from a 3-0 deficit as Corey Dickerson scored twice and knocked in a third run. Outfielder Mikie Mahtook, in the top of the ninth, hit a home run to give the Rays a 4-3 lead.

For the Rays, Drew Smyly went six innings, giving up only two unearned runs (and three overall). Dickerson had three hits and Logan Morrison and Mahtook each had two.

The Rays play Houston again today with Blake Snell pitching against Dallas Keuchel.

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Rays beat Red Sox as Mikie Mahtook snaps a long hitting slump

As they compete for the AL East pennant, the Boston Red Sox are probably asking themselves one question this morning.

Mikie Mahtook?

Really?

The Red Sox lost their second straight game to the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday night, dropping a 2-1 decision as Mahtook knocked in Steven Souza with the winning run. Mahtook had been mired in 0-for-34 slump, and the hit left his average at only .138. Only three other Rays have ever had longer hitless streaks (Luke Scott’s 0-for-41 is the record).

“You go in every day expecting to get hits and expecting to do well. Day after day, it just kind of gets on you. Finally, to break through like that, was nice,” Mahtook said. “It was a relief, but it was more of me feeling good about all the work that I put in leading up to it to finally see the results. It’s nice that I don’t have to have that record (Scott’s) on the books.”

The Rays won because Jake Odorizzi threw seven innings and allowed only one earned run to improve his record to 9-5. Matt Duffy had two hits. And Enny Romero recorded his first save of the year by striking out David Ortiz for the last out. The bullpen ended this series with 11 innings of scoreless baseball.

“Great win,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “Man, we needed a lot of things to come together for us to get that win, and it seemed like they all did today. Outstanding. Offensively, Drew Pomeranz was tough. First time a lot of our guys had seen him. He had really good carry to the fastball, his curveball was breaking really sharp today. You could tell we just weren’t able to make some adjustments. He made it difficult for us. But the little adjustments we did make counted quite a bit. Brad Miller’s big hit through the shift to score Longo [in the 6th], and Mikie Mahtook’s overall tremendous day. He needed that for him. He’s been struggling and it’s nice to see a player that comes in and directly contributes to a big team victory like he did today.”

Odorizzi has allowed one run or fewer in five of his eight starts since the All-Star break. He’s 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA since the break. Still, he praised the team’s bullpen for his latest success.

“It’s been incredible,” Odorizzi said. “A lot of guys have been asked to go back-to-back with 20 pitches one outing, then have to go the next day. So it really shows how deep we are that those guys are able to answer the bell every single time. They’ve held down a great offense the last couple games.”

The Rays are in Houston today, where Drew Smyly will face Mike Fiers.

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Rays capture a rare walk-off victory by beating Boston in 11

Say this for the Tampa Bay Rays. They still know how to celebrate.

Look at them frolic. Look at Logan Morrison on the back of hero Luke Maile. Look at the team bound around home plate. Look at the Rays celebrate their third walkoff victory of the year, a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

The Rays are now 4-57 in games in which they have trailed after seven innings.

It was the bottom of the 11th inning, two out, when Maile doubled to right field. After Logan Forsythe walked, Kevin Kiermaier hit a grounder to first, but when Heath Hembree covered first, he dropped the ball. He turned and threw to the plate to try to cut down Maile, but catcher Sandy Leon couldn’t hold onto the ball.

“Very odd play, unique play,” Rays’ manager Kevin Cash said.”I didn’t envision Maile taking an extra 90 feet on a ball that didn’t get out of the infield, but I’m glad he did.”

For the Rays, there were several bright spots. For the second straight night, the bullpen threw shutout baseball against Boston (nine innings). Pitcher Matt Andriese threw six innings. And Evan Longoria hit his 30th home run of the year to tie the game at 3-3 after Boston took a 3-0 lead.

Cash said it was nice to see Longoria’s success.

“It’s been exciting to watch,” Cash said. “It’s nice to see Longo have the success. He’s carried us in so many ways this year, offensively, defensively. There were a lot of people saying last year or early this year, questioning where has he gone? I think he’s answered a lot of those questions with the season he’s put together this year.”

Maile was elated by scoring the winning run.

“The main thing I was trying to do was get good secondary leads. Once I got to second base, I knew that I’m not the fastest guy on the field, so I wanted to get an advantage and get off the bag as much as I could,” Maile said. “As soon as I saw the ball go into the ground, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to beat it unless it got kicked around a little bit. But I just tried to run hard, pick up the ball, and as soon as I touched third, instincts just take over after that. That was awesome. It’s even more fun than it looks like on TV.”

Said Kiermaier: “I tried getting down the line as quick as possible and hoped for the best, and thankfully, he didn’t come up with it clean and it kicked away from him. And Luke did a great job busting his butt down the line and sliding into home. It was such a moment of relief.”

The Rays play the Red Sox in a day game today when Jake Odorizzi pitches against Drew Pomeranz.

 

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Rays’ Chris Archer falls to 7-17 in latest Tampa Bay defeat

Chris Archer keeps finding new and interesting ways to lose baseball games.

Archer, the Tampa Bay Rays pitcher, lost for the 17th time this season (7-17) in a 2-1 decision against the Boston Red Sox. He lasted five innings and gave up only one earned run.

For the Rays, this time, the game boiled down to two plays at third base. In the third inning, Steven Souza‘s attempt to throw out David Ortiz skipped by the bag, allowing a run to score. In the eighth, right fielder Mookie Betts cut down Kevin Kiermaier as he tried to stretch a double into a triple.

Archer threw first-pitch strikes to only eight of 21 batters. He needed 109 pitches to get through five innings. Archer is now one loss away from tying Tanyon Sturtze‘s team record of 18 losses.

Archer started the season considered the Rays’ ace after making the All-Star Game last year. He was fifth in the Cy Young voting and second in the league in strikeouts.

This year, he has a shot at leading the league in strikeouts and could reach 200 innings.

The Rays got two hits each from Corey Dickerson and Kiermaier.

Tonight, Tampa Bay sends Matt Andriese to the mound against Rick Porcello.

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Boston’s David Price shuts down former Rays’ teammates

For much of the year, fans have debated whether David Price of the Boston Red Sox was the worth his paycheck.

After Tuesday night, they may give him a raise.

Price tamed his former Tampa Bay Rays teammates, throwing eight innings of two-hit, shutout baseball. It was Price’s second straight win over the Rays, and stretched his scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings. Price didn’t allow a runner to reach second base and pitched to three batters over the limit.

“We fell behind early,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “Blake just struggled to find the zone and it drove his pitch count up. He did some good things getting ahead of some hitters, but it seemed like there were too many bullets wasted, driving the pitch count up and leading to too many walks. When you walk this team eight times, you’re going to make it difficult to win a ballgame because they’re so deep offensively. I thought the bullpen came in and did a really nice job behind him.

“Offensively, a pretty quiet night there until the end. Price had good stuff. We probably got some pitches to hit that we just missed. It was a really strong start by Price.

The Rays didn’t score until the ninth, when Evan Longoria hit his 29th home run of the year. The Rays had only four hits for the game.

“I felt good, for sure,” Price said. “I made some good pitches. That’s a tough team for me to pitch against, it doesn’t matter if it’s here or on the road. It’s just stuff. So it was good.”

The Rays might have had two more runs, but left-fielder Andrew Benintendi went over the left field fence and brought back Steven Souza’s home run.

“Pretty stunned,” Souza said. “That was an unbelievable play. He ran a long way, was at full speed and then to go over and hold onto the ball was pretty impressive.”

Said Benintendi: “I thought my first step was good. I knew I was probably going to have to jump at some point and chose the right time. … Yeah, I think so. It was something I was working on it batting practice. I saw the wall out of the corner of my eye, and timed up the jump well.”

The teams play again tonight when Chris Archer pitches against Clay Buchholz.

 

 

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Rays knocks off powerful Texas as Drew Smiley pitches well

For the Tampa Bay Rays, the streaks are all good these days.

The team won its sixth game in seven outings Sunday. In five of the six games, they’ve scored at least eight runs. In all, they’ve outscored opponents 55-18 in those wins.

Not only that, but they’ve now won two in a row against a first-place team. The Rays beat the Texas Rangers again Sunday, 8-4.

“Great series, man,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “From the way it started to the way it finished, that was an outstanding effort by our guys. We pitched well, made some big pitches, they put some pressure on us later in the ballgame. I thought Drew was good. He left a cutter that came back middle-in, but other than that he was really good against a very difficult, challenging lineup. Good for him to continue pitching like he has been as of late. Offensively, Souza had a big day. Really liked some of the little things that we did. I know Logan Forsythe had a three-run homer, but Beck getting a bunt down, Bobby Wilson getting a bunt down, things like that helped us win a ballgame today.”

Fosythe’s homer was his third straight game in which he’s homered. Steven Souza added a two-run shot, his second home run in nine at-bats. That comes after Souza had one home run in his previous 158 at-bats.

Corey Dickerson kept his six-game hitting streak alive on the heels of an 0-for-17 streak.

“It shows the talent that we have and the kind of baseball we’ve been playing as of late, all around, from the pitching, bullpen, defense, offense,” said Forsythe. “I think we’re getting big hits, having more quality at-bats with guys in scoring position. That’s a great ball club over there, and to be able to take two of three and win a series here—we want to continue it. And see how we end up.”

Drew Smyly won again for the Rays. He’s 4-0 in his last six starts.

“We’re very capable of winning,” Smyly said. “Texas is a first-place team, they’ve been in first place all year. That’s a really good lineup, they have great pitching and we beat them two out of three. It’s just consistency, I think, we got in a really bad slump there in the first half but I think our pitching is really coming around the second half of the season and our lineup is very capable of doing damage like they did today. When you have those two things, you’re going to win games.”

Today, rookie Blake Snell pitches against former Ray David Price.

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