Published June 25, 2012
| Sports Network
Alex Cobb hopes to follow up a brilliant effort in his last start when the Tampa Bay Rays begin a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Cobb scattered just two hits over seven scoreless innings last Sunday against the Miami Marlins to run his record to 3-3, while lowering his ERA to 3.82. He also struck a batter out to end an inning in five of the first six frames.
"I felt horrible during my bullpen," Cobb said. "[When that happens] is when you sometimes pitch your best, because you focus on every pitch. It turned out pretty good.
"Everything [about his bullpen prior to the game] was horrible. Couldn't locate my fastball, changeup was up, didn't even come close. Thankfully, that made me zero in more than anything else."
Cobb beat the Royals the only other time he faced them last season, holding them off the board for seven innings.
Tampa closed interleague play on a positive note with a doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies.
After Carlos Pena's three-run home run carried the Rays to 3-2 win in the first game, Brooks Conrad hit a pair of doubles and knocked in four runs to power Tampa to a 7-3 triumph in the nightcap.
Kansas City, meanwhile, was not as successful, as it was swept in a three-game series by the St. Louis Cardinals, falling 11-8 in Sunday's finale.
Mike Moustakas hit a pair of home runs for the Royals, who were outscored by a 30-14 margin over the three games. Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur also homered.
Jonathan Sanchez gave up six runs on four hits over 5 2/3 frames. He walked six and struck out three. Tim Collins (4-2) allowed five runs -- four earned -- on three hits over 1 2/3 innings to take the loss.
"We put some offense on the board," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We just fell behind early. Sanchez really struggled with his command in the first two innings, then actually settled down to get us into the sixth inning. We just kept battling back."
Getting the call for the Royals tonight will be righty Luke Hochevar, who was brilliant his last time out. Hochevar defeated the Houston Astros on Tuesday, scattering five hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings, as he improved to 4-7 to go along with a 5.65 ERA.
Hochevar has faced the Rays six times and is 1-2 with a 7.42 ERA against them.
This is the first meeting of the season between these teams, but Tampa won the final five encounters in 2011.