ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb was “happy” with his return after a long absence.
Cobb went five solid innings during his first start in two years, Logan Morrison hit a go-ahead two-run homer, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays 8-3 on Friday night.
Cobb, coming back from Tommy John surgery last year, allowed two runs and four hits in his first appearance since Sept 28, 2014, at Cleveland. He struck out seven — six looking — walked one and retired his final 10 batters.
“It was almost like debut-feeling again,” Cobb said. “Things were speeding up on me. I wouldn’t say my stuff is exactly where I want it to be. It’s back to the point where I can at least go out there and compete.”
Cobb needed 53 pitches to get through the first two innings. He threw just 31 the rest of his outing.
“He might have looked a little rusty early but it’s been a while since he’s been in the big leagues, and he’s always been one of the better competitors in the game,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He knows how to survive.”
Cobb made eight minor league rehab starts.
“The performance was outstanding,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Really, really impressed with the way he competed and executed pitches.”
Morrison put the Rays up 4-2 in sixth on his 12th homer off Marcus Stroman (9-6).
“My stuff feels as sharp as it’s been all year,” Stroman said. “It’s just frustrating not getting the results I want to get.”
Stroman gave up four runs and five hits in six innings.
Luke Maile hit a solo homer and Kevin Kiermaier had an RBI triple off Francisco Liriano before Brad Miller added a two-run shot against Ryan Tepera in a four-run seventh that made it 8-2.
All three batters Liriano faced in his first relief appearances with Toronto after four starts scored.
Danny Farquhar (1-0) worked a scoreless sixth for the win.
Edwin Encarnacion had an RBI double and Russell Martin picked up his 22nd RBI in his last 16 games on an infield single as the Blue Jays went up 2-0 in the first.
Eddie Gamboa, a 31-year old knuckleballer, made his major league debut and loaded the bases on a single and two walks in the eighth before departing with one out. The Blue Jays were able to score just once on Troy Tulowitzki’s grounder off Brad Boxberger.
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis, optioned to Bluefield on Thursday to make room for the signing of C Josh Thole, was recalled from the Appalachian League club. … Tepera, RHP Danny Barnes, and OFs Darrell Ceciliani and Dalton Pompey were recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. … LHP Matt Dermody had his contract purchased from Buffalo and INF Matt Dominguez was designated for assignment. … OF Quintin Berry signed a minor league contract and might be called up next week.
Rays: Cash said RHP Chase Whitley (Tommy John surgery) should be recalled next week and used in “more of a scripted relief role where he’ll know when he’s pitching.”
Gibbons said “there’s a good chance you’ll probably see” Liriano start again a couple times this month,
Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada (8-6) starts Saturday night against Rays rookie LHP Blake Snell (4-7), who left Sunday’s game at Houston with a bruised lower left leg.