O’s game blog: Alex Cobb faces former team

After being swept in a two-game series by the New York Yankees, the Orioles continue their homestand tonight. They welcome in their American League East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays to start a three-game series.

As game time was approaching the tarp was on the field and we may be in for a delayed start.

The Orioles (2-3) lost 9-3 and 8-6 to New York as Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer in the ninth last night to turn a 6-5 deficit into an 8-6 Yankee lead and win. After losing their season opener, the O’s won two in a row and now have lost two straight.

Tampa Bay (4-3) began the year taking two of three from Toronto and then split four games with Atlanta. The Rays lost the last two games of that series 7-4 and 2-1 following a four-game win streak. The Orioles went 7-12 against Tampa Bay in 2019, including a 4-6 mark at Oriole Park. The Rays won the season series for a third straight year, going 11-8 in both 2017 and 2018. Tampa Bay hit 28 homers in the season series, their second most against any opponent, including 16 home runs in 10 games at Camden Yards.

Over the last two seasons, the Rays are 12-8 in extra-inning games, including a current nine-game winning streak, extending their club record of seven wins, first set over 2007 and 2008. This is the American League’s longest streak since the Seattle Mariners won 10 straight extra-inning games from Aug 6, 2018 to May 13, 2019. The Rays are 1-0 in extras this season. Their last overtime loss was July 27, 2019 at Toronto.

Cobb-Throws-Black-@-Minn-Sidebar.jpgRight-hander Alex Cobb (1-0, 1.69 ERA) makes his second start of 2020. Cobb took a shutout and 5-0 lead into the last of the sixth at Boston last Saturday. He was replaced after Mitch Moreland homered, but that was only run he allowed among four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He threw 78 total pitches, 38 of them four-seam fastballs that averaged 92.6 mph. He threw 26 splitters and got seven swings and misses.

Cobb faces his former team tonight. The Rays selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. He went 48-35 (.578) with a 3.50 ERA in 115 starts over parts of six seasons with the Rays and was the winning pitcher in the 2013 AL Wild Card Game at Cleveland. Cobb ranks among all-time Rays leaders in ERA (3rd), wins (5th), starts (6th) and strikeouts (7th).

Left-hander Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner, starts for the Rays. He spent two stints on the injured list last season as he went 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 23 starts. In his first outing this year he was limited to two scoreless innings on three hits and 46 pitches against Toronto on Sunday. He is slated to go three or four innings tonight.

Snell averaged 95.6 mph on his fastball last summer, second among pitchers with 100 or more innings to Gerrit Cole. Snell was fourth in the majors with 12.36 strikeouts per nine. He often got little run support, one reason he posted a losing record a year after winning the Cy Young.

He didn’t face the Orioles in 2019. In five career starts, he is 2-2 with a 4.67 ERA and 1.111 WHIP against the O’s. Over 27 innings he allowed five homers to the Orioles and posted an 11.7 strikeout rate.

Baltimore third baseman Rio Ruiz hit his third home run with a two-run shot in the second inning Thursday night. It marked his first career home run against the Yankees. Dating back to last Aug. 10 (42 games), he has homered 10 times during this stretch. He became just the fourth player in Orioles history to hit home runs to account for each of his first three or more hits in a season, joining Milt Pappas (4) in 1962, Boog Powell (3) in 1963, and Mike Devereaux (3) in 1994.

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