The Tampa Bay Rays played The Texas Rangers on October 4, 2011. The Rays ended their AL wild-card streak, losing 4-3.
The Tampa Bay Rays play the Texas Rangers for Game 2 in Texas! Final score: 6-8 (Texas)
The Rays beat the New York Yankees to clinch a playoff spot in the 2011 playoffs!
By Darek Sharp
If there was any pressure on Alex Cobb to keep his job in the Rays rotation, he sure had a good way of showing it.
Cobb, a possible candidate should someone be pulled from the rotation when Jeff Niemann returns, put a kibash on that idea Thursday. Cobb threw his first career complete-game shutout as the Rays defeated Oakland 5-0 at the Trop.
Cobb had registered 101 pitches through eight innings, and then issued a leadoff walk to start the ninth. Manager Joe Maddon didn't budge, letting Cobb finish.
And it paid off. Defensive replacement Carlos Pena started a double play on a Josh Reddick grounder, and with many in the crowd on their feet Cobb struck out Yeonis Cespedis to end the game. It was Cobb's eighth strikeout. He allowed four hits while walking only two, finishing with 113 pitches.
"I can't imagine what a no-hitter feels (like) because I was pretty excited for to go out in the ninth," Cobb said on Sun Sports.
Tampa Bay scored all of the game's runs in the bottom of the fifth.
The teams entered the night in current possession of the two AL Wild Card spots. Oakland would have closed to within a half-game of the Rays with a win but Cobb made sure that wasn't going to happen.
Tampa Bay pulled to within 2 1/2 games of New York in the AL East.
Both Cobb and Oakland starter Tyson Ross were cruising along with not much in the way of scoring threats until the bottom of the fifth. The Rays strung together several hard-hit balls after Jeff Keppinger began the inning with an infield single.
Luke Scott hit one that looked like a homer off the bat, but bounced off the top of the right-field wall for a double putting runners on second and third. Ryan Roberts supplied the first scoring with sac fly to deep center and Sam Fuld's RBI single made it 2-0.
With two outs (B.J. Upton struck out), Matt Joyce hit another ball deep to right that landed inside the foul line for a two-run double and it was 4-0. Evan Longoria then stroked a single up the middle to complete the rally.
Neither team seriously threatened the rest of the way. Cobb got into a tremendous groove, baffling the A's with a variety of pitches and speeds, including a big curve.
Cobb ended each of the first three innings with a strikeout. His performance was quite a contrast from his previous outing, when Anaheim tagged him for eight runs on 12 hits Saturday.
He told Sun Sports' Todd Kalas after the game the key difference was keeping the ball down in the zone.
The only problem Cobb had was after the game ended, as he and the other Rays starters did their "pitchers leap" -- with Matt Moore knocking Cobb to the ground.
Bartolo Colon, who led the A's in both wins (10) and innings pitched, was scheduled to start Thursday night's game before his 50-game suspension for violating the Major League Baseball substance abuse policy.