ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb overcame early struggles and ended up with a most impressive performance.
Cobb won his first start of the season, Matt Joyce hit a grand slam and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Saturday.
“He believes he belongs in the big leagues and we’ve felt that way all along,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “You can only have so many starting pitchers.”
Cobb (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. He retired his last 10 batters.
Cobb was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Friday night to take the place of Jeff Niemann, who is on the 60-day disabled list with an injured right leg. The 24-year-old righty went 3-2 in nine starts for Tampa Bay last season.
“Cobb was phenomenal,” Joyce said. “In the first inning or two, he had the adrenalin and he was excited, but he settled in really well. He’s going to be a big part of our success.”
Fernando Rodney got the final three outs for his 13th save of the season and 100th of his career.
The Braves had scoring chances in each of the first four innings, but Cobb induced two double-play grounders.
“My game is to get groundballs, and they started finding a few holes,” Cobb said. “To be able to get a little momentum going on the double plays was huge.”
Atlanta went 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
“We kind of let him off the hook I think there early,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said. “Then he fell into a rhythm and he got ahead of everybody after that.”
Atlanta starter Randall Delgado (2-4) lasted only four innings, allowing four runs, three hits and a career-high five walks.
“His stuff was there,” McCann said of Delgado. “Today was just one of those days where he couldn’t locate as well as he wanted.”