Daily Process: Joyce & Longoria Go Yard; Cobb, Peralta, Farnsworth Pitch In | The Process Report

Daily Process: Joyce & Longoria Go Yard; Cobb, Peralta, Farnsworth Pitch In

On James Shields Day, Alex Cobb showed a Shields-like process in just his second major league start. The final line (6.1 IP, 4H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) may not reflect it; however, Cobb was much improved in his second big league game. After some shaky defense on his part in the first inning, Cobb escaped a two-on, one-out jam without allowing a run. On a 3-2 pitch, Cobb got a swinging strikeout of Michael Young on a breaking ball before retiring Adrian Beltre on a groundball.

Unlike the first time around when he struggled with fastball, Cobb had much better control of his heater. Topping out around 93 MPH, Cobb threw 62% strikes with his fastball. A student of pitching 2.0, he worked off that good fastball control and was able to throw his breaking ball and off-speed pitches in fastball counts. Cobb faced 29 batters and started 16 of them with something other than a fastball. He started 11 batters with a first-pitch curveball.

As Cobb left the game with two runners on base in the seventh inning, J.P. Howell struggled with his control against the Rangers. After striking out Josh Hamilton on an 87 MPH fastball, Howell allowed both of his inherited runners to score. Howell hit the strike zone on 11 of his 19 pitches. Since returning, he has lacked the signature command on his fastball. Control and command are usually the last things to return after a long layoff, so things should get better for J.P.

In the bottom of the inning, Matt Joyce took Alex Cobb and J.P. Howell off the hook when he took the left-handed C.J. Wilson deep to right field for a two-run blast. After going homerless against lefties in his career, Joyce has two bombs against southpaws in the month of May. Recently, R.J. deemed him ready for full-time duty. It appears Joyce agrees with him.

The Rangers would grab the lead in the eighth inning thanks to a wild pitch and a bobbled ball by Kelly Shoppach. I’ll have more on Shoppach’s offensive struggles in the morning; however, if he continues play poorly behind the plate in addition to at the plate, he serves little purpose on a major league roster.

Luckily for Tampa Bay, the theme of the night was lifting your teammates. Following Shoppach’s blunder, Evan Longoria hit a two-run home run off the ageless Arthur Rhodes in the bottom half of the eighth inning. Although Neftali Feliz stood up earlier in the inning, he did not begin warming until the Longoria at-bat. Rhodes – in to face left-handed Johnny Damon – remained in the game following a two-out blooper by Damon. After working ahead of the count, Longoria got just enough of an 84 MPH fastball to put the Rays ahead for good. You could split the game-changer award between Joyce and Longoria for their two-run home runs. Joyce tied the game going against the platoon split while Longoria was handed the favorable matchup by Rangers’ manager Ron Washington.

Kyle Farnworth worked a perfect ninth inning for his 10th save. Facing Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and Adrian Beltre, Farnsworth needed just nine pitches to retire the side. Although he was charged with a wild pitch in the eighth inning, the Rays other high-leverage ace, Joel Peralta, worked out of a two-on, no-out situation in relief of J.P. Howell. Joyce and Longoria will get the highlights, but Peralta and Farnsworth should also get notice for their stellar efforts.

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