Alex Cobb had an interesting third inning tonight

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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.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.