A potential ninth-inning rally for the Rays was sabotaged in Thursday’s game against the Orioles when Evan Longoria was ruled to have passed Ben Zobrist on the basepaths on what otherwise would have been a double.
Down 6-2, the Rays had runners on first and second with none out and Longoria up. Longoria hit a long fly to left-center that barely escaped Adam Jones and Nate McLouth and rolled all of the way back into center field. Zobrist, who was on first, was unsure if it would be caught and headed back to first base to tag up. After the ball got away, Zobrist and Longoria were practically side-by-side running towards second, though Zobrist did get there first.
It appeared the end result of the play was an RBI double, with Longoria on second, Zobrist on third and Sean Rodriguez having scored. However, the umpires then called Longoria out for having overtaken Zobrist.
Whether Longoria in fact did that was never quite clear. From the Rays’ camera behind the action, it didn’t look like Longoria ever truly overtook him, but the angle wasn’t very good. It was also unclear how any of the umpires made the call when all seemed focused on the ball in the outfield. Regardless, it wasn’t the best of ideas for Longoria to try to keep pace with him.
After the play, Orioles closer Jim Johnson retired two of the next three batters to end the game at 6-3.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.