5/20/2013 6:32 P.M. ET
So far, Cobb can't help but rack up K's
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
TORONTO -- During Spring Training, Alex Cobb spoke about the importance of the starters pitching deeper into games to help cover for the innings missed without James Shields, who was traded to the Royals.
Cobb noted that getting rid of hitters in two or three pitches, or pitching to contact, would go a long way toward achieving the aforementioned goal.
Alas, Cobb's strikeouts are up this season, including a 13-strikeout performance in 4 2/3 innings against the Padres.
But when asked, Cobb said he was not striking out too many hitters.
"No, I'm not trying to," Cobb said. "I'm trying to attack the zone. Once I get to two strikes, then I'm trying to put guys away. I don't think I'm striking out too many guys. I'd obviously rather get balls put into play earlier in the count, put it on the ground. But when it doesn't go that way, you have to improvise and try to get the guy out to the best ability. Once there are two strikes, I try to put them away. It's just going that way right now. It won't be like that later in the year."
Cobb has 52 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched this season, and he has walked only 12. His strikeouts-to-walks ratio has increased each of his three seasons, from 1.76 in 2011 to 2.65 in 2012 and 4.33 in 2013.
Escobar's revelry has new meaning in Toronto
TORONTO -- Yunel Escobar experienced a homecoming of sorts Monday when the Rays shortstop returned to Toronto to play before the Blue Jays fans he had played in front of for three years.
Based on the boos, one could surmise that the overall reaction was negative, though Escobar did manage to place the final exclamation mark on his return.
With the Rays trailing, 7-3, in the ninth, Escobar homered off Casey Janssen with a runner aboard. Typical of Escobar's flair, he made a demonstrative "safe" sign when he touched home plate to mint his fourth homer of the season.
Rays manager Joe Maddon is widely known for giving his players a lot of rope. Nevertheless, he clearly did not care for Escobar's gesture.
"I'm sure that was an emotional moment for him," Maddon said. "The booing probably promoted the reaction that he had, and I'm going to talk to him about that tomorrow.
"I love the fact that he competed the way that he did. Obviously we've been talking about how well he's been doing; he's been doing great. And I love him on this team, I love him in the clubhouse, I love everything about this young man. But I still want to talk to him about the reaction after his home run, and I'm certain you're not going to see that again."
Escobar spoke to reporters with Rays reliever Joel Peralta serving as the translator.
"What I do at home plate, I always do every time I hit a homer," Escobar said. "I don't want to misinterpret that. It's just something that I do every time I cross home plate.
"I'm going to explain to Joe that I do that every time," he added. "I'm here to talk about it, and I'm just here to try and win games."
Janssen did not see what happened.
"I missed it, completely missed it," Janssen said. "I don't know what happened. I heard a couple of boos, and that's it."
Though Janssen did not see Escobar's gesture, he showed little concern even after hearing an explanation of what happened.
"He hit it; he hit his homer," Janssen said. "Like I said I didn't see it. I don't think he's doing anything directed at me. We were teammates; I had nothing wrong with him, you know, move on."
Longoria playing as good as Maddon has seen him
TORONTO -- Even before his second-inning leadoff single Monday against the Blue Jays, Evan Longoria was riding a career-high 13-game hitting streak.
During the streak, Longoria was hitting .385. In addition, he had reached base safely via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in a Major League-high 42 games this season.
Longoria's solid play has extended to his defense, which has been every bit as good as his Gold Glove past.
"It's the best baseball I've seen him play day in and day out, offensively and defensively," Rays Manager Joe Maddon said. "Every thing about his game has been superb, and it's been fun to watch."
Maddon had a theory about Longoria's high level of play on offense.
"I think the big thing is not chasing," Maddon said. "You talk about that all the time. Once a Major League hitter establishes his own strike zone and forces a pitcher to come to him more than he permits the pitcher to dictate, that's when he becomes really good."
Maddon seeks clarification on home run review
TORONTO -- Matt Joyce hit a double against the Orioles on Sunday that was reviewed and subsequently changed to a home run. Prior to that ruling taking place, Joe Maddon debated with the umpiring crew headed by Gerry Davis that if they reviewed the call, they could not overturn Joyce's double. The Rays manager maintained that doubles were not reviewable.
After the game Davis offered more insight into the ruling and what umpires were allowed to review.
"If we go to replay, whatever we ascertain from the replay is the call we make," Davis said. "So a foul ball is a possibility in that situation. That was the delay, because that's what I was telling [Maddon], that if we go to replay, that's possibly what could happen."
On Monday, Maddon still disagreed with Davis' premise about what could be reviewed.
"I disagree, because that would be a ruling that was made up on the spot," Maddon said. "Doubles are not reviewable. That's a boundary call. Home runs are. Had they called it a home run and [Orioles manager] Buck [Showalter] challenges it and it's a foul ball, of course it's a foul ball. But if they rule it's a double on the field and it's reviewed, they cannot say that's a foul ball. It's already been called a double. Doubles aren't reviewable; home runs are.
"I think they were wrong, and I'm waiting for clarification from the league," he added, "because you cannot change a double from a fair ball to a foul ball. That was my concern."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.