Rays leave Marlins reeling 7-4

“It means so much. I’m with 10 other guys with what I just accomplished and if I steal 7 more bases I get to knock a few more off of that list," Damon said. "I am just enjoying playing. I’m so close to home- for the Rays- I mean it’s really a dream come true for me."


In addition to adding to his legacy Saturday, Damon also went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored three runs. While Joyce was held hit-less on the night, he still managed the two RBI on sacrifice flies in the first and fifth innings. Casey Kotchman went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Sam Fuld and Reid Brignac each picked up clutch, run-scoring hits with two outs in the bottom of the second.


Still, not all is rosy about the win. While Cobb's demotion doesn't make his second major league win a pyrrhic victory, it tends to dampen the mood.


Not that you'd know it from talking to the guy.


"It's been an unbelievable experience and it's only going to help me with my career moving forward," said Cobb. "There are a couple of things I need to work on at Durham… I'll use it to my advantage."


With Jeff Niemann set to return from the disabled list, the Rays rookie right-hander found himself the odd man out in the starting rotation and got sent down after a great showing. While Tampa bay had a solid outing all around, Cobb's performance set the tone for the win.


"It begins with Alex," said Maddon. "Alex really pitched well once again; great poise, good stuff. He's going to be a very good major league pitcher."


In point of fact, despite a weak showing in his first major league appearance, Cobb already IS a great major league pitcher. He was optioned back down to Durham immediately following his poor showing May 1 against the L.A. Angels, in which he allowed four runs and walked four batters in only four and one-third innings.


Since rejoining the big club in late May, he notched two wins and two no-decisions in four starts with a 16/8 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He's allowed only seven runs in his last four starts.


"Sending him out right now… that happens to a young guy like that on occasion but he's aware that he can play [at the major league level] now, that he belongs here now," said Maddon.


"Do I feel like I belong? Yeah, I feel like I can compete, absolutely, at this level," said Cobb.


Thanks to Cobb's win, Tampa Bay gained a game on the Boston Red Sox; the Rays now sit 4.5 games back of the division leaders.


The Rays hold a 3-2 lead in the Citrus Series against the Marlins; the back-to-back wins Friday and Saturday were the first at home since mid-April. James Shields (6-4, 2.60 ERA) looks to give the Rays the season win Sunday, facing Chris Volstad (2-7, 6.07). The Rays look to pick up their first home sweep of the season in the 1:40 p.m. matinee.

cobb_hero.jpg

Saturday evening Alex Cobb, starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, took the W in the 7-4 victory over the Florida Marlins, improving to 2-0 before being optioned down to the team's AAA affiliate in Durham, NC.

So long, and thanks for beating the Fish.

Cobb's brilliant performance—pitching six and one-third innings while yielding two runs on three hits—was one of several shining moments for the Rays on the evening. Johnny Damon hit his 500th career double to lead off the bottom of the first inning; he scored on the first of two sacrifice flies from Matt Joyce.

With that milestone, Damon joined an elite list of ballplayers—Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Goose Goslin, Lou Gehrig, Al Simmons, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, George Brett, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor—to have amassed at least 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 100 triples and 200 home runs. While Damon is considered by some to be a long-shot candidate, all of the 10 previous players on that list are in the hall of fame.

"You look at these numbers, this guy keeps racking them up," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "When you talk about deserving the hall of fame? Absolutely. That kind of performance deserves not only strong consideration but acceptance, I think."

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