Fully recovered from taking a line drive to the head, Cobb looks to help the struggling Rays take a three-game set from the visiting Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
Cobb (6-2, 3.01 ERA) was perhaps Tampa Bay's most effective starter prior to June 15, when he was struck in the right ear by a ball off the bat of Kansas City's Eric Hosmer in the fifth inning of a 5-3 victory at Tropicana Field.
Thankfully for the right-hander, he was conscious the whole time and left the hospital a day later.
"The fans have been so supportive through all this, whether they're sending in letters or tweeting me," Cobb told the Rays' official website. "It's going to be nice to make my return in front of them."
After his road to recovery included rest, three rehab starts and a battle with a blister on his index finger, Cobb is anxious to get back on a major league mound.
"I'll probably get those first-time-out jitters and the adrenaline going," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting out there again."
Manager Joe Maddon plans to limit Cobb to about 90 pitches as he tries to pick up where he left off before the injury.
"My mindset will be the same as it was when I was pitching before," said Cobb, who is 3-0 with a 3.35 ERA in his last eight starts overall and 4-0 with a 3.02 ERA in eight at home in 2013. "Hopefully the competitive side of me will take over, and I'll be able to keep this team in the ball game."
Cobb is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA against the Mariners (75-87).
Tampa Bay (67-51) snapped a season-high six-game slide Wednesday when it rallied for a 5-4 victory over Seattle. Jason Bourgeois hit an RBI single to cap a two-run ninth for the Rays, who trail Boston by three games in the AL East."It's almost never easy," Maddon said. "When things are getting a little bit awkward, it normally takes an awkward game to win, in order to get you back on task, on track."
Rays rookie Wil Myers had a two-run homer - his only hit in 15 at-bats after batting .442 over his previous 77.
Seattle's own talented rookie shortstop - Orlando native Brad Miller - drove in two more runs and is 3 for 9 with four RBIs in the series.
Looking to bounce back after their three-game road winning streak ended, the Mariners hope Joe Saunders (10-11, 4.69) can turn things around in the finale.
The left-hander has a 7.20 ERA while dropping three of four following a season-high four-start winning stretch. He gave up nine runs - four earned on a grand slam to Yuniesky Betancourt - over 4 1-3 innings of a 10-5 loss to Milwaukee on Friday.
The Mariners committed three errors in that contest, and five in his last four outings.
Saunders is 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA against the Rays, but has not faced them since 2008.
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|July 11, 2013||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin tightness|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|August 04, 2013||Desmond Jennings||15-Day DL||Fractured left middle finger|
|August 02, 2013||Brandon Guyer||15-Day DL||Fractured right middle finger|
|July 29, 2013||Matt Moore||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|June 30, 2013||Jesse Crain||15-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
|June 28, 2013||Evan Longoria||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, left foot|
|June 16, 2013||Alex Cobb||60-Day DL||Concussion|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Alex Cobb had a successful return after being sidelined by a scary injury.
Cobb pitched five strong innings in his first big league game since being hit in the head by a batted ball two months ago and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Seattle Mariners 7-1 on Thursday night.
"I'm happy with everything that happened tonight," Cobb said. "I learned a lot. I got to a point where I know that going forward I'll be getting better and I can take a lot of stuff from tonight's game."
Cobb (7-2) ended his night by striking out Nick Frankiln on a full-count pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field.
"That was really fun to watch," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "It's really impressive to see him comeback from that injury that well."
Cobb gave up one run and three hits, striking out six and walking two. He said that he never thought about his injury during the game.
"That's probably something I'll reflect on tonight, but there's so much stuff you've got to think about leading up to every single pitch that you go through, you don't have time to think about the what if's and what happened," Cobb said.
Wil Myers , who had four RBIs, drove in two with a double and Evan Longoria added a two-run homer off Joe Saunders (10-12) that put the Rays up 5-1 in the fifth.
"He's a great guy to have back in the rotation," Myers said of Cobb. "We're excited to have him back."
Cobb, activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, sustained a concussion after being struck on the right ear by a liner hit by Kansas City's Eric Hosmer on June 15. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and was hospitalized overnight.
"Everybody goes through troubles," Cobb said in a prestart interview session with reporters on Wednesday. "If you let it wear you down and affect the way you think and affect the way you live, then it beat you. You got to beat the situation, and go out there and just be happy to be back."
Yunel Escobar had a run-scoring single in the seventh for the Rays, who have won two in a row after a six-game losing streak. Alex Torres , Jamey Wright and Wesley Wright completed a five-hitter.
The decisive fifth for the Rays started when Sam Fuld lined a single that went off Saunders' glove. After Sean Rodriguez had a bloop single to center that fell between a couple of Seattle defenders, Myers and Longoria followed with their run-scoring hits.
"I tipped it with my glove rather than my face, which is good," Saunders said.
Cobb saw Fuld's drive on TV in the clubhouse.
"It was a scary moment, but I'm glad he was able to get a glove up," Cobb said.
Saunders allowed five runs and seven hits over 4 1-3 innings.
Raul Ibanez gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the second on his first homer since going deep twice on July 12. He has 25 homers this season.
Myers tied it at 1 with an RBI single during the third. He picked up his fourth RBI of the game on a run-scoring double during the eighth.
NOTES: Seattle manager Eric Wedge , recovering from what the team called a very mild stroke, could return during a homestand that starts Aug. 23. "He's passing everything with flying colors, he's feeling much better," acting Mariners manager Robby Thompson said. "There's a real good chance he will join us when we get back." ... As part of his season-long effort to keep his players loose, Maddon had a 20-foot python in the clubhouse before the game. ... To make room on the roster for Cobb, Tampa Bay designated INF Ryan Roberts for assignment. ... Maddon said a conference with the umpires in the third inning stemmed from both starting pitchers saying the balls were slick.