BOSTON - Alex Cobb can’t be judged on one start. Signing him as a free agent can’t be deemed a colossal failure after one inning. The same patience required to prepare him for today’s debut with the Orioles is needed to grade him.
The first four Red Sox batters reached against Cobb this afternoon and he allowed three runs and threw 28 pitches before retreating to the visiting dugout. The storms forecast for the next two days arrived early without the precipitation.
Cobb lasted only 3 2/3 innings and was charged with seven earned runs (eight total) and 10 hits while the Orioles fell behind the Red Sox 8-0 at Fenway Park.
Pedro Álvarez’s two-run homer off Hector Velázquez with two outs in the fifth reduced the lead to 8-2.
Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez homered off Cobb, who allowed his most runs since giving up eight to the Astros over three innings on July 31, 2017 while pitching for the Rays. He made only seven more starts due to a toe injury that forced him on the disabled list.
The Orioles didn’t sign Cobb until March 21 and they chose a deliberate pace for his arrival, with simulated and extended spring training games sprinkled among bullpen sessions. They got him up to six innings and 93 pitches.
Getting him through the first today was a challenge.
Mookie Betts drew a six-pitch walk to lead off the inning and he scored on Andrew Benintendi’s double off the Green Monster. Benintendi moved to third on Manny Machado’s error on the relay throw and he trotted home on Ramirez’s shot over the famed wall.
Martinez singled before Cobb finally registered his first outs of the day on a 4-3 double play grounder from Rafael Devers. Jackie Bradley Jr. singled to center field, a line drive up the middle that forced Cobb to duck while raising his glove, and Sandy Leon flied out on the next pitch.
Cobb threw 20 more pitches in the second inning while stranding Tzu-Wei Lin, who singled, but Martinez homered to right field with one out in the third to increase the lead to 4-0. Cobb threw only 11 pitches in the inning, but the second consecutive 80 mph knuckle curve to Martinez landed in the visiting bullpen.
Benintendi had a two-run single in the fourth, he scored on Ramirez’s double and Miguel Castro replaced Cobb, who threw 49 of 79 pitches for strikes.
The 10 hits off Cobb were the most he’s surrendered since the Mariners reached him for 14 over five innings on June 3, 2017 at Safeco Field.
The eighth run scored when Machado committed his second throwing error after fielding Martinez’s routine grounder and bouncing the ball past first baseman Chris Davis.
Betts left the game in the top of the fourth inning with a bruised left foot, the result of his slide into catcher Chance Sisco on Benintendis’ RBI double. X-rays were negative and he’s listed as day-to-day like the rest of us.
Trey Mancini had both of the Orioles’ hits off Velázquez through three innings - a leadoff single in the first and two-out double in the third. Álvarez drew a walk after the double, his eighth of the season, but Machado lined to center field.
Adam Jones and Davis singled to open the fourth, the latter’s ball going to left field while his bat shattered in his hands, but Tim Beckham grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Sisco struck out for the second time.
Anthony Santander doubled in the fifth and scored on Álvarez’s second home run of the season.
Update: The Red Sox increased their lead to 9-2 in the sixth inning on Martinez’s RBI single off Castro.
Update II: Danny Valencia’s throwing error in the seventh led to an unearned run off Donnie Hart that increased the Red Sox’s lead to 10-2.
Update III: Davis doubled and scored in the ninth on Sisco’s ground ball, but the Orioles lost to the Red Sox 10-3.