ST. PETERSBURG -- After Sunday's game, the Rays optioned right-hander Alex Cobb to Triple-A Durham. The club will make a corresponding roster move on Tuesday.
Cobb was 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 29 strikeouts in four starts at Durham before making Sunday's start for the Rays, in which he threw 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on four hits and four walks to earn a no-decision.
"The whole experience was amazing," Cobb said. "The past two days have been just a blur. Next time I get the call, hopefully it will go a lot smoother and won't be as rough of a transition."
Cobb, who hails from Vero Beach, Fla., had approximately 40 family members and friends in the stands. Included in the group was his brother, Richard, who is in the Army and stationed in Missouri after serving in Iraq, where he was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart.
"That meant everything to me," said Cobb about his brother attending the game. "I've seen him like five days over the last three years."
Cobb's start was made necessary by Wade Davis getting pushed back a day due to Tuesday's rain-out in Minnesota.
Rays manager Joe Maddon remains a big fan of Cobb.
"Overall, I like his stuff a lot and think he's going to be a very competitive Major League pitcher," Maddon said.
The Rays will need to make another roster move with a position player prior to Tuesday's game. Evan Longoria (strained left oblique) will play the final game of his rehab assignment at Double-A Montgomery on Monday night. He is expected to fly to St. Petersburg on Tuesday morning, in time to join the team for their 6:40 ET game against the Blue Jays.
Shields off to dominating start
ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields might not have picked up the win Saturday, but he did accomplish a lot of other things during his eight-inning no-decision.
Shields tied a career high with 12 strikeouts, he became the first Ray to pitch into the ninth inning in three straight starts, and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Shields is the only pitcher in the Major Leagues to throw eight or more innings while allowing one run or less in three straight starts this season.
Seattle's Felix Hernandez and San Francisco's Matt Cain were the only pitchers to do it in 2010. In doing so, Shields became the first player in Rays history to fashion such a streak.
Shields also tied Joe Borowski's club record for most consecutive scoreless innings at 21. He now has a 2.14 ERA, so it seems odd he has just two wins, a fact that could best be explained by lack of run support. Shields is receiving the lowest run support in the American League, with an average of 1.75 runs per contest, which translates to nine total runs in his six starts.
Of note, Shields and catcher Kelly Shoppach seem to be developing a nice chemistry together.
"He's throwing the ball really well, so I can call almost anything and he can execute it," Shoppach said. "I guess if you want to call that harmony. But when a guy's throwing the ball as well as he is, it makes my job really easy as a catcher. We can execute almost any pitch at any time."
Shields said he began working well with Shoppach during Spring Training.
"He caught me a lot during Spring Training," Shields said. "[John] Jaso only caught me one time during Spring Training. We really focused during Spring Training in getting on the same page and communicating a little more in between innings. He knows what kind of game plan I have out there, and now we're at the point where I just go out there and he knows exactly what I'm doing and we don't have to discuss it much."
Joyce finding comfort zone, reaping rewards
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Joyce went 2-for-4 on Saturday with a home run and a hustling double in the 10th that led to his scoring the winning run. The home run gave Joyce two home runs in two days, marking the fifth time in his career that he has hit a home run in consecutive games.
Joyce entered Sunday's action hitting .321, prompting manager Joe Maddon to chirp about Joyce's progression this season.
"I think early on he was kind of pressing a little bit, missing his pitch and chasing a little bit," Maddon said.
Maddon said he talked to Joyce about being uptight.
"I said, 'Come on man, stop, just chill out man, you're fine, everything's going to be good,'" Maddon said. "He's just one of those guys who needed to get comfortable, I think."
Maddon pointed out that some of Joyce's mindset could have been created by the roller-coaster from the Major Leagues to the Minors that he has experienced in his career.
"And I think he's one of those guys who has to really convince himself every day that it's fine and he belongs here," Maddon said. "I think he's at that point now. I really expect him to have a really good year. I just think at the beginning of the season he was just pressing a little bit."
Maddon sees great things ahead for Joyce.
"I know there's a bunch of home runs in there," Maddon said. "It's connected with his confidence. But I think he looks really good right now."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.