Cobb fal­ters in tough de­but against Red Sox

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS -

your­self a lot of the times, mak­ing sure that you’re sharp and you have things work­ing to your best abil­i­ties, and that was the case more than any­thing today, was me fal­ter­ing rather than re­ally get­ting beat.

“That lineup is red hot, and they were tee­ing off on some re­ally bad pitches. It was a com­bi­na­tion of those two things, but in prepa­ra­tion to get ready for the big league level, you can’t — un­til you’re out there. But I’ve been around long enough to know what I was go­ing to ex­pect out there, and what I was go­ing to be faced with, and I just didn’t come through today on my end.”

Cobb al­lowed eight runs in an out­ing shorter than four in­nings just once in 29 starts last sea­son with the Tampa Bay Rays. So the per­for­mance was a rar­ity for a start­ing pitcher with a re­sume of suc­cess in the Amer­i­can League East, which was among the main rea­sons the Ori­oles signed Cobb to a club-record four-year, $57 mil­lion deal on March 21.

Ori­oles in­fielder Tim Beck­ham, who was a team­mate of Cobb with the Rays, shrugged off the out­ing, say­ing he trusts in Cobb’s track record.

“He’ll get com­fort­able, man,” Beck­ham said. “Once he gets com­fort­able and set­tled in, he’s a good pitcher. He’s a been do­ing it for a while now and he has good numbers in the Amer­i­can League East. That’s noth­ing I’m go­ing to worry about. We’ve got a lot more other wor­ries than Alex Cobb pitch­ing. He’s a good pitcher and I know he’d go­ing to come in here and com­pete.”

But on Satur­day, Cobb strug­gled to lo­cate his two-seam fast­ball as it sailed up in the zone while hang­ing his split­ter and curve­ball too of­ten. Of the 16 split-fin­gered fast­balls Cobb threw, the Red Sox had five hits and put 11 in play.

“Whether it’s the [first] im­pres­sion or not, you just want to go and win a ball­game, give your team a chance,” Cobb said. “You take pride in what you do. That was some­thing I haven’t felt very of­ten in a long time, just re­ally not hav­ing much clue what was go­ing on up there. You can make all the ex­cuses in the world, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to fig­ure out a way to get sharp, get sharp quickly, and get on a good roll. And I plan to do that this work week.”

Cobb was among the top 10 starters in the AL last sea­son in fewest homers al­lowed per nine in­nings (1.1, 10th). But he yielded two home runs Satur­day, in­clud­ing a two-run blast by Han­ley Ramírez over the Green Mon­ster in left field that capped a three-run first in­ning. Last sea­son, Cobb al­lowed mul­ti­ple homers in just seven of his 29 starts.

Head­ing into Cobb’s first start, Ori­oles man­ager Buck Showal­ter didn’t know what to ex­pect in Cobb’s de­but, be­cause he knew he’d face a dra­matic change from pitch­ing in sim­u­lated games and in ex­tended spring con­tests.

“I think you look at it through re­al­is­tic eyes,” Showal­ter said. “But we felt like and he felt like — we like the pro­gram he’s on and he’s only go­ing to get better, es­pe­cially when con­di­tions get a lit­tle better. But a lot of things change when you come from the mi­nor leagues to the big leagues, even the weather that he came from. We threw a lot of things at him today and he never gave in. He’s only go­ing to get better and better. We’re ex­cited to have him.”

A ca­reer 5-1 record and 3.15 ERA at Fen­way Park com­ing into the day didn’t carry over for Cobb. His af­ter­noon started poorly, from the six-pitch walk he is­sued to Bos­ton lead­off man Mookie Betts in the first in­ning. An­drew Ben­in­tendi fol­lowed by yank­ing a 2-1 split­ter off the Green Mon­ster to score Betts, and Ramírez took a 2-2 split­ter over the high wall in left to hand the Ori­oles a 3-0 deficit.

Over­all, the Ori­oles (5-10) have been outscored 22-4 in the first in­ning this sea­son, and 7-1 in the first two games of the se­ries.

With one out in the third, Cobb started J.D. Martinez off with a curve­ball in­side for a ball, then threw an­other that hung over the plate and Martinez sent it the op­po­site way into the Red Sox bullpen in right field.

Things quickly un­rav­eled for Cobb in the fourth. Catcher Sandy León opened the in­ning with a sin­gle and two bat­ters later, No. 9 hit­ter Tzu-Wei Lin sin­gled. Ben­in­tendi then took Cobb’s first-pitch de­liv­ery into right field for a two-run sin­gle, and scored on Ramírez’s dou­ble off the Green Mon­ster in left.

Mo­ments af­ter Ramírez’s dou­ble gave the Red Sox a 7-0 lead, Showal­ter hopped out of the third base dugout to end Cobb’s day. An eighth run – al­beit un­earned — would be charged to Cobb when Manny Machado com­mit­ted a throw­ing er­ror and Ramírez scored again with Miguel Cas­tro on the mound.

ADAM GLANZMAN/GETTY IM­AGES

Bos­ton’s Han­ley Ramírez rounds the bases af­ter hit­ting a two-run homer in the first in­ning off Alex Cobb, who was mak­ing his de­but for the Ori­oles af­ter sign­ing a free-agent deal in the clos­ing days of spring train­ing. Cobb gave up 10 hits and seven...

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