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Right-hander Alex Cobb didn’t sign with the Orioles until March 21 and missed spring training, then went 2-12 with a 6.41 ERA in 17 first-half starts.
But his ERA since the All-Star break, despite a 2-3 record, is 2.15, and in his first five August starts, spanning 35 innings, he was 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA despite dealing with a blister on his right hand for much of that time. Included in that stretch was his first nine-inning complete game since 2012.
“It was tough early on in the season, dealing with just the failures, not only as a team but me personally, and feeling like I really contributed poorly to the first half,” Cobb said. “You try to pick yourself up and build on some positives and make a run with that and really show that you can contribute, you should be here. That’s been my focus since I got here, really.”
❚ Cobb’s complete game was the second by a Baltimore pitcher this season (Dylan Bundy had the other). It is the first time Orioles pitchers have recorded at least two complete games in a season since 2014.
Boston Red Sox
The weekend was a wake-up call for the Red Sox in general and for right-hander Rick Porcello in particular.
Boston was swept at Tampa Bay, its first series loss after going 10-0-4 in its previous 14. The last time the Red Sox went that long without dropping a series was 1972, when their streak reached 16.
And Porcello’s loss Aug. 25 gave him his first back-to-back defeats of the season and dropped his second-half record to 4-3 with a 4.33 ERA. He was 11-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 20 firsthalf starts.
“It should teach us that we’ve got to come in and play and do the things we’ve been doing all year that have made us successful, and teams aren’t going to lay down because we’ve got 90 wins or whatever it is,” Porcello said. “We’ve still got to play baseball. Nothing is done here, you know?”
❚ J.D. Martinez entered the week leading the majors in batting average and RBI and was one homer behind Oakland’s Khris Davis. The only Red Sox player ever to lead the majors in homers, RBI and average in a season was Ted Williams in 1942.
New York Yankees
Left-hander J.A. Happ has been nearly perfect since the Yankees acquired him from the Blue Jays before the trade deadline, solidifying a rotation that has faltered at times.
Happ’s latest gem gave him a 5-0 record and 2.37 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 301⁄3 innings for New York. He is the first pitcher to win his first five starts for the Yankees since Bob Turley in 1955.
“He’s given us exactly what we’ve needed. He’s been able to pitch deep into games and be efficient,” manager Aaron Boone said.
Happ — at 35 a first-time All-Star this year — is 15-6 overall and has a chance to reach 20 wins for the second time in three seasons.
❚ CC Sabathia honored the Black Aces during Players’ Weekend with a pair of customized cleats. The Black Aces, of which Sabathia is a member, are a group of 15 African-American pitchers who have won at least 20 games in a season. Sabathia won 21 games for the Yankees in 2010 and has 244 victories in his 18-year career.
Tampa Bay Rays
Outfielder Tommy Pham was limited by injuries (dislocated finger, right foot fracture) after being acquired from the Cardinals before the trade deadline and was 2-for-22 (.091) in his first seven games for the Rays.
But after missing three more games last week, Pham was back in the lineup Aug. 25 and hit his first homer in more than a month.
“Tommy’s going to do a lot of big things for us,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Good to get him back on the field.”
It was Pham’s 15th homer of the season. He hit a career-high 23 in 2017.
❚ Catcher Michael Perez, who made his major league debut July 26, had four RBI on Aug. 24 against Boston, matching his total in his first 20 games. He drove in two more runs Aug. 26.
❚ The Rays have set singleseason team records by using 31 pitchers, 16 starting pitchers (most in the majors) and 20 rookies. Of the 25 players on the Aug. 26 active roster, 13 (52 percent) were rookies and 16 (64 percent) had fewer than two years of service time.
Toronto Blue Jays
Troy Tulowitzki is going to miss the entire season, giving credence to speculation that his days at shortstop might be over.
Bo Bichette is considered Toronto’s shortstop of the future, and Aledmys Diaz has been the primary shortstop this season.
But Tulowitzki doesn’t seem interested in changing positions. “I would love for it to be a competition, because that makes our team better,” he told MLB.com. “I remember being a rookie, people thought I had no chance to make the team out of spring training. I had to beat out a veteran.”
Tulowitzki, who hasn’t played in a game since July 28, 2017, had surgery on both heels in early April and originally was expected to be out for only eight weeks.
❚ DH Kendrys Morales had homered in seven consecutive games, one short of the major league record, through Aug. 26. That gave him 21 for the season; he hit 28 last year.
“Obviously, it was nice to get into a save situation, but definitely weird facing the guys who I’ve been with for so long.”
Zach Britton Yankees left-hander, after recording his first save for New York. The Yankees acquired him July 24 in a trade with the Orioles, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2006.
The Rays still have high hopes for Tommy Pham, who was limited by injuries and got off to a slow start after joining the team at the trade deadline.