SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb said he’d never done it before and it was, in his words, “a gametime decision” yesterday. What he did was pitch from the stretch for his entire 69-pitch outing. Where he could have chosen to pitch from a full windup with no runners on base, he just stayed throwing from the stretch position.
He went out and had four dominant innings against a Toronto split squad lineup that featured maybe only two or three regulars. But he was dealing. He struck out the side in the first, fanned two more batters in the second and didn’t allow a hit through the fourth. Then he got the first two outs in fifth. But Jonathan Davis reached on an infield single and Toronto went on to score three runs off him.
But his experiment throwing out of the stretch worked well. Very well.
“I’ve always seen guys like (Carlos) Carrasco go out there and look like he didn’t even break a sweat and thought if that was something I could do,” Cobb said. “When you are younger, you don’t have the strength and you need that little extra momentum (from a windup). But now, I’m the strongest I’ve been in my career. It’s a good time to try it and see how it feels. When the ball is jumping like it is, you’ve got everything you need. And also honestly, there were times I mixed up my timing on it. Almost slide step out of the stretch with no one on and it can throw off the timing of the hitter a little bit.
“It was a good day. I’ve really felt pretty good the last week, week and a half, with my delivery, simplifying some things. I’m happy with today. Got a lot of good work in. Wish I could have left on a better note than that last inning, but overall it was a good day of work.”
The right-hander will now have just one more spring outing before he starts March 28 on opening day against the Yankees in New York. Cobb, who has never started on opening day, is 7-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 17 career starts versus the Yankees. In his career at Yankee Stadium, he is 2-2 with an ERA of 2.88.
Sisco trying to finish strong: Catcher Chance Sisco began spring training with four homers in his first four games. He hasn’t homered since and his average has fallen, with him going 2-for-16 the last seven games. But he still likes the feel he has in the batter’s box right now and is hitting .292/.485/.792 this spring. He leads the team with eight walks and no one with more than a few at-bats has as solid an OBP.
“Yeah, absolutely (still feeling good at bat). I think I’ve still been having really good at-bats. I haven’t had great results the last few games, but I’ve been seeing some pitches, walking and putting the barrel on the ball,” he said.
Yesterday was also a feather in the cap for Sisco on defense. He caught Cobb pitching a strong game and then four relievers combined for four shutout innings with him back there. O’s pitchers had allowed 60 runs the seven previous games before facing Toronto.
Sisco started off spring hot at bat and now he’s trying for a strong finish behind the plate.
“It means a lot. My job is to catch as well as it is to hit. I want to feel good back there and I do feel good right now. To get some really good innings with Cobby back there, it’s awesome,” he said.
Still playing hard: Orioles players should be playing hard, as there are jobs to win in this camp. But there are days in spring training as the game sometimes drags on, the crowd thins out and numerous changes are made where a player’s focus and intensity can wane.
But before Saturday’s game - when specifically asked about reserves like Christopher Bostick, Jack Reinheimer and Jace Peterson playing hard - Hyde praised his team for not letting its focus drop. He praised their comeback that fell short on Friday. The Orioles trailed Minnesota 9-0 early in that game in Fort Myers, rallied to 9-7 but lost 12-9.
“I really like our spring training roster,” he said. “For the most part, all our guys have played really well. You know, you get down 9-0, it’s hot in the middle of March in a spring game, that’s an easy cash-in situation, and our guys continued to grind at-bats and play defense. We didn’t make any errors and were sound defensively.
“We still have a big (roster) number here. I think the guys still see opportunity. We have a lot of guys still trying to make this club as well as some guys that are on the club that maybe were banged up and need at-bats. So we’re not in an anxious position to go (north) right now. These last nine or 10 days, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”