Alex Cobb received the largest contract given to a pitcher in Orioles history. On Saturday night, he showed his former team what could have been.
Cobb shut out Baltimore for 7 2/3 innings, allowing just five hits and no walks while striking out seven, in the San Francisco Giants’ 4-0 victory to even the clubs’ weekend series at Oracle Park. The 35-year-old right-hander, who has a 2.71 ERA in 12 starts this season and a 3.51 ERA in three seasons since leaving Baltimore, recorded 14 of his 16 swings-and-misses on his splitter.
On the verge of the 2018 season, Cobb signed a four-year, $57 million deal with Baltimore, going 7-22 with a 5.10 ERA over 41 starts before he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels with one year left on the contract. Owed $4.5 million in deferred payments from that agreement, Cobb will receive the fifth-largest paycheck from the Orioles (36-22) of any player this season.
“He had three pitches going,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, who overlapped with Cobb in his injury-plagued 2019 season and the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. “A good fastball with a lot of life and movement, good split finger that we had a tough time elevating on him and a good breaking ball. Not a ton of hard contact.”
Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish matched Cobb for two innings, but the Giants (29-29) struck for three runs in the third, the same frame Baltimore third baseman Gunnar Henderson exited with low back discomfort. After opening the inning with a strikeout, Bradish allowed five straight hits before the streak ended on a jumping catch by center fielder Aaron Hicks on the warning track.
“It’s tough to stop it,” Bradish said. “They’re a pretty good hitting team, and they were just rolling. Left a few balls up in the zone.”
Bradish was pleased to make it through the frame, noting that last season and earlier this year he was unable to get through big innings. He worked a clean fourth, but he was still left with his first loss in 17 starts against teams outside of the American League East.
After Bryan Baker inherited loaded bases from Keegan Akin and left them that way in the fifth, Cionel Pérez allowed an inherited runner to score on Baker’s line in the sixth. Bruce Zimmermann, an Ellicott City native, pitched two scoreless innings in his first major league appearance of the season. The 28-year-old left-hander was pleased with how he was pitching for Triple-A Norfolk, with a 4.05 ERA in nine starts, saying he’s had all four of his pitches working of late. He’s enjoyed seeing the start the Orioles have gotten off to; even with Saturday’s loss, they have the AL’s third-best record.
“As a lifelong Baltimore fan and as a part of the organization, it’s really exciting to watch,” Zimmermann said before the game.
Between Zimmermann’s two frames, the Orioles had their lone threat against Cobb. After Hicks reached on a one-out infield single, Ryan O’Hearn doubled, with Jorge Mateo’s groundout back to Cobb accounting for the top of the eighth’s second out and the veteran’s last of the night. Left-hander Scott Alexander came in to face Adam Frazier and induced another comebacker, throwing Frazier out at first while falling to the ground near the mound.
“I feel like we have a great chance to come back and put up runs and, like you’ve seen with this team in the past, things happen quick,” O’Hearn said. “We know how to string hits together. Just didn’t happen tonight.”
Around the horn
- Before the game, the Orioles selected the contract of corner infielder/outfielder Josh Lester, a 28-year-old who they signed to a minor league contract this offseason after he made his major league debut last year with Detroit. Hyde said they brought up Lester, a left-handed hitter who hit 14 home runs with an .888 OPS for Triple-A Norfolk, because they are facing a string of right-handed starters in the upcoming days.
- Baltimore had space for Lester on the active roster because it placed left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe on the bereavement list; Hyde said he is expected back for the start of the Orioles’ series in Milwaukee on Tuesday. The Orioles opened a spot on their 40-man roster by transferring right-handed reliever Dillon Tate (right elbow flexor strain) to the 60-day injured list, a move that Hyde said was procedural and did not reflect a change in Tate’s health.
- Right-hander Kyle Gibson will start Tuesday’s series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, with the Orioles using Monday’s day off to skip their open fifth starter’s spot.
- Outfielder Colton Cowser, the Orioles’ third-ranked prospect according to Baseball America, rejoined Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday after missing almost three weeks with a left quadriceps injury. He went 2-for-3 before a planned exit in the sixth. Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings, allowing one hit and five walks, in his first start since being optioned to Norfolk.
Orioles at Giants
Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2, MLB Network
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM