After using 11 pitchers in 18 innings last night, the Rays needed a big outing from Alex Cobb this afternoon. He delivered, allowing just one run over 8 1/3 innings in a 5-1 victory over the Orioles.
Cobb was in control throughout, giving up just five hits and two walks while striking out 12 batters. He entered the ninth inning with a chance at a shutout, but David DeJesus misplayed a fly ball off the bat of Chris Davis and Adam Jones followed with an RBI single. Fernando Rodney secured the final two outs.
Cobb allowed two runs over eight innings and struck out 10 on Monday against the Rangers, so he’s stepping up at just the right time for the Rays. The 25-year-old right-hander now has a 2.90 ERA and 130/43 K/BB ratio over 136 1/3 innings this season.
Desmond Jennings drove in four out of the five runs for the Rays this afternoon, connecting for a three-run homer in the fifth inning and an RBI triple in the seventh. The 26-year-old only has a .246 batting average this season, but he has established new career-highs with 14 home runs and 54 RBI.
As for the Orioles, time is running out for them to make a run. Here’s our up-to-the-minute AL Wild Card standings:
Tampa Bay – 85-69
Cleveland – 84-70
Texas – 83-70 (.5 games back)
Kansas City – 81-72 (2.5 games back)
New York – 82-73 (2.5 games back)
Baltimore – 81-73 (3 games back)
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.