ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb was pleased with the strides he made in Tuesday night's 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in what was unquestionably his best outing of the season, but said after the game that seeing those results are just one step in the process of finding his form after joining the team late in spring training.
Cobb, who didn't have the benefit of normal season preparation after signing with the Orioles March 21, recorded his first quality start of the season in his fourth start, holding the Angels to two runs on seven hits over six innings. He hadn't reached five full innings in any of his three previous starts and had a 13.11 ERA.
"The toughest part right now is repeatability of the delivery," Cobb said. "That groove that you try to get in. Key points in your delivery you try to get to before you can go towards the plate. And there will be a lot more tonight that I take away from and bring into my next outing."
The most encouraging component of the outing was Cobb's ability to induced groundouts, including 11 of his first 12 and 13 of 18 overall, showing that he is getting more comfortable with his delivery, that his command has improved and that he is working closer to the strike zone to induce swings that convert into outs. Cobb's ground-ball rate this season is now at 54.3 percent, which is close to his 54 percent career mark.
"I think when my delivery is on point pretty good, you're going to see a lot of ground balls," Cobb said. "The next step you're going to start seeing is more swings and misses after that. That is kind of the direction when I know I am kind of right. The ground balls start happening and the swings and misses happen. But it does show that I'm moving in the right direction."
Cobb said that's the next step to take, and his swinging strike percentage of 4.3 percent this season is far below half his career mark of 8.4 percent, but Cobb showed last season — his first full season since Tommy John surgery — that he could be successful without getting as many swings and misses. Last year, his swinging strike rate was 6.7, but he still averaged 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings. His strikeouts per nine this season sits at 3.1. If he can raise that mark, it's also a better indication that he's developing his breaking ball as a swing-and-miss pitch, whether it's his split-change or his curveball that he began to rely on more last season after elbow reconstruction.
Sisco available day after collision
Catcher Chance Sisco, who was on the bad end of a collision with third baseman Pedro Álvarez in Tuesday's loss and was forced from the game, was available to play Wednesday.
Other than feeling soreness in his nose area, Sisco said he had no lasting effects from the collision, which appeared to momentarily knock him unconscious. Sisco and Álvarez collided when both were chasing a foul pop by Ian Kinsler Tuesday, with Sisco's head taking the brunt of the impact against Álvarez's left forearm.
"Yeah, it was pretty scary," Sisco said. "I never really had something like that happen before. Just a popup, went after it. Obviously, it's tough to hear down there, so I didn't really hear anything and Pedro gave me a nice little forearm. But I feel fine now and I'm ready to go."
Sisco didn't have any concussion symptoms Wednesday, both Sisco and manager Buck Showalter said.
"He had the doctor here last night," Showalter said. "He had no symptoms at all. That stuff shows itself quickly and I was listening to the questions [head athletic trainer] Brian [Ebel] was asking him out there and everything was fine. From the dugout that inning, we were preparing to bring a catcher and then we had another plan for if when Brian talked to him in the morning [and] there was an issue. He's fine."
Caleb Joseph was already expected to start Wednesday's game against Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, but the Orioles had to make contingency plans to have another catcher available if Sisco couldn't play. The only other healthy catcher on the organization's 40-man roster is Austin Wynns.
Sisco could joke about it Thursday, saying he saw the replay of the collision, and said it was "about as bad as it looked."
"I didn't know what to expect watching the video, but it looked pretty rough," Sisco said.
Former Orioles farmhand Hader wins MLB honor
Ex-Orioles minor league pitcher Josh Hader, now pitching out of the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen, was named the National League Reliever of the Month for April after posting a 1.00 ERA with four saves in 11 relief appearances. Hader allowed just four hits over 18 innings while striking out 39 batters.
Last week, Hader, 24, recorded all eight of his outs by strikeout in a 2 2/3-inning relief appearance against the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the first pitcher since 1893 with as many as eight strikeouts in an outing that was less than three innings.
Hader, a Millersville resident and Old Mill alumnus, was a 19th-round pick of the Orioles in 2012. He was dealt to the Astros at the 2013 nonwaiver trade deadline along with outfielder L.J. Hoes in a trade that netted veteran right-hander Bud Norris. Hader was acquired by Milwaukee at the 2015 trade deadline in a deal that sent outfielder Carlos Gómez and right-hander Mike Fiers to Houston.
Around the horn
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop (oblique) played in his first extended spring game Wednesday and is still scheduled for a possible return from the disabled list Tuesday after a weekend rehabilitation stint in Double-A Bowie. … Closer Zach Britton received a visit from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the surgeon who repaired his ruptured Achilles tendon, on Wednesday to assess Britton's rehab progress. … Shortstop Manny Machado entered Wednesday leading the majors with a .366 batting average and ranked second in the American League with 41 hits. … Center fielder Adam Jones' game-tying ninth-inning single Tuesday ended an 0-for-12 streak. … The Orioles' three intentional walks of Mike Trout on Tuesday marked the first time the team issued three intentional passes since reliever Mike Trombley did so Sept. 9, 2003, in Cleveland.