The Rays are playing host to the San Diego Padres in an inter-league three-game series this weekend, leading off with an Alex Cobb/Edinson Volquez starting pitching match-up tonight. After allowing two runs in the first on solo home runs by Will Venable and Carlos Quentin, Cobb had an interesting third inning.
Venable struck out to lead off the inning, but was able to reach first base safely on a wild pitch third strike. Chase Headley struck out for the first out of the inning. However, Venable stole second base on strike three. Cobb fell behind 1-0 to Quentin, then threw a second-pitch strike as Venable once again stole a base, winding up at third base with one out. Quentin eventually went down swinging. With a 1-1 count to Yonder Alonso, Cobb was called for a balk, allowing Venable to score and bringing the score to 3-0. Shortly thereafter, Alonso struck out swinging.
If you’re keeping score, Cobb’s line for the inning read: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 0 BB.
On April 28, Cincinnati Reds lefty Tony Cingrani also struck out four in an inning.
UPDATE: Cobb left the game with two outs in the fifth, having struck out 13 in total. As Corey Brock tweets, Cobb is the first pitcher in baseball history to have 13 or more strikeouts in fewer than five innings. DRays Bay also notes that Cobb’s start breaks a 34-game streak in which Rays starters had gone at least five innings, the second-longest streak since 1916.
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.