By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Alex Cobb’s rehab start didn’t go as planned, but his right arm was “feeling great” after the outing, which is really all that mattered.
“The competitive side of you gets angry about the result and not being able to make the adjustment,” Cobb said. “But you walked off the mound, and remember that the goal is to stay healthy, and you have a long time to get that all ironed out.”
Cobb pitched in a professional regular season game Wednesday night for the first time since 2014. The right-hander is recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2015, and began his rehab stint in a 7-2 loss for the Charlotte Stone Crabs against the Bradenton Marauders.
The veteran pitcher threw 21 pitches — eight for strikes — while allowing three runs on two hits and two walks. He recorded just two outs before heading to the bullpen for another 10 pitches.
Cobb will pitch again Monday in the Stone Crabs’ game at Daytona.
“Every five days we’re going to try to throw like a normal routine,” Cobb said. “A normal start every five days, and try to get acclimated back to a big league season and big league competition as best we can.”
Cobb and the Stone Crabs’ pitching staff were out-performed by Bradenton starter Stephen Tarpley, who threw a gem in the win.
Charlotte didn’t collect its first hits until the fourth inning when Alec Sole through against Tarpley (4-2) with a one-out single. Mac James added another single later in the inning, but the Stone Crabs were unable to scratch across a run at that point, trailing 7-0.
Tarpley finished the night with seven innings pitched, five hits allowed and six strikeouts.
“He’s got pretty good stuff,” Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said of Tarpley. “We got to him last time we faced him, but he didn’t have the same command as he had tonight. He commanded his fastball in and out, and that was the story of the night.”
Benton Moss, who was originally scheduled to start for Charlotte, entered in the third inning for Nick Sawyer, and managed to limit Bradenton after that. His lone blemish was Tito Polo’s solo homer in the fourth.
Moss held the Marauders to that run on six hits and two walks, while adding seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
“He was outstanding,” Johns said. “For him to cover that many innings — we’re a little short right now. I thought he was really good. He had everything going tonight, and he did everything we hoped he could do.”
Joe McCarthy had a one-out triple in the sixth, but a pair of strikeouts neutralized the threat. The Stone Crabs finally broke through with a pair of unearned runs in the ninth.
Charlotte went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and left seven runners stranded on base.
Bradenton quickly put the game out of reach with three runs in each of the first two innings.
Three came off Cobb, and three more were surrendered by Sawyer, who relieved Cobb with two outs in the first. The Marauders’ big blow against Sawyer came when Jerrick Suiter delivered a two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded.
The game wrapped up a six-game set between these two teams. Charlotte won the first four games — three of which came in Bradenton — and then went 0-2 in the final two games at home.
“I’ve never done it. It’s a weird schedule,” Johns said. “But it is what it is. They’re in our division. We only saw them three times in the first half of the season, so we knew we were going to have to play them a lot. “It’s kind of bunched up, which is pretty neat. You get to see all of their starters, and get to know all of their players. I thought it was a good experience.”
MARAUDERS 7, STONE CRABS 2
HITTER OF THE GAME
Tito Polo, Marauders: The Marauders’ leadoff hitter went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a pair of walks. He also hit a solo homer in the fourth inning to give his team a 7-0 lead.
PITCHER OF THE GAME
Stephen Tarpley, Marauders: Tarpley blanked the Stone Crabs over seven innings of work. He surrendered just five hits and two walks while stiking out six batters.
First: Bradenton jumped all over Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb, who was making a rehab start as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. The Marauders got Cobb for two hits, two walks and three runs in the first.
THEY SAID IT
Alex Cobb Stone Crabs / Rays Pitcher: “I’m happy because I have something to build off of. It was definitely difficult out there for me, the first time out. The positives are the arm felt great. There wasn’t any delay getting into game speed, so I was happy with that.”