Cobb threw 43 pitches and allowed a run on two hits after not surviving the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. He did allow a run-scoring double to Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier in the third, but was generally pleased with his outing.
“Yeah, just from a comfort level,” he said. “The first time out there is really difficult to prepare for. You throw bullpens, sim games or whatever, but once you get on the mound, the game speeds up on you. I feel like I’m old enough now that the game shouldn’t be speeding up on me, but it did a little bit that first game.”
This time, Cobb kept the ball down and got seven groundouts before handing the game off to fourth starter candidate Nate Karns.
“I felt like he had more life on his fastball than his last time out,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Threw a bunch of really good curveballs. That was his go-to pitch today and it was effective. That was really positive. Threw the change-split that he has, threw a couple good ones, also. I thought it was a better outing than last time for sure. He had better stuff.”
Cobb said it was just a matter of commanding the lower reaches of the strike zone better than he did in his first start.
“I tend to leave some balls up over the plate and they get hit,’’ Cobb said, “so the focus today was just driving the ball down in the zone and getting some more off-speed pitches over for strikes. So, yeah, it was a better work day for sure.”
The Orioles scored two runs in the fourth inning to take the lead on a sacrifice fly by Stevie Wilkerson and an RBI single by Jace Peterson. But the Pirates scored five runs off reliever Mychal Givens in the fifth — four of them crossing the plate on home runs by JB Shuck and Josh Bell.
The other two Orioles runs came on solo homers by veteran catcher Carlos Pérez and utility infielder Jack Reinheimer in the seventh.
Givens in review
Givens allowed a home run on his first pitch after taking the mound in the fifth inning. He also allowed a bloop single, hit a batter and gave up an RBI single before Bell hit a three-run homer to complete the five-run Pirates rally.
It wasn’t pretty and Givens wasn’t happy about it, but the right-hander didn’t seem too concerned. He also gave up a run on two hits in his first exhibition appearance against the Rays.
“I was disappointed,’’ he said. “I don’t like the (excuse) of ‘working on stuff.’ I’m just trying to get through spring training healthy and get my stuff ready for the season. … I was working on some stuff, but even when you’re working on stuff, you’re trying to compete.”
Hyde chalked it up to the time of year.
“I still think he’s getting a feel. It’s early spring training, still getting a feel for his pitches,’’ he said. “Just mislocated a few times and they hurt him. He’s trying to go in to Bell there and just left it in the middle and he hit a home run to center field. I think he’s working on his secondary stuff and his fastball command’s not there yet.”
Givens said he feels fine physically.
“I feel great about everything,” he said. “I just want to go out there and work on what we’ve been working on and keep on competing.
Karns is quick
Karns pitched the fourth inning and retired all three batters he faced, then said afterward that his arm felt fine. He was scratched from his Friday night start against the New York Yankees after reporting “general arm soreness.”
“I felt good,’’ he said. “Quick inning. Located my pitches. Used all my pitches and got a good result. I’m happy for that and ready to move on to the next step.”
He said he felt like he could have gone further, but endorsed the team’s desire to handle him cautiously because of his injury history.
“I think we’re just taking it easy because I had a little fatigue at the beginning of camp,” Karns said, “so just kind of get out there and have a good inning and build off of that.”
Hyde’s was reserved in his evaluation.
“Got through the inning,’’ he said. “Thought his stuff was OK, but we’re going to ramp him up probably, see how he comes off tomorrow, see how he feels tomorrow. But I don’t think he had his best fastball. I think he’d admit to that. So we’ll see how he comes back tomorrow.”
Though the soreness was a red flag, Karns said he wasn’t seriously concerned about it.
“At this point in my career, if you have something like that, you can kind of determine right off the bat if it’s something bad or not,” he said. “This was just something that I felt like it wasn’t going to be beneficial for me or the team to go out there and try to pitch three innings feeling the way I did.”
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.