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Giants need Cobb to continue dominance after All-Star break

Giants need Cobb to continue dominance after All-Star break originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area


SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants will come out of the All-Star break with a stretch that doesn’t look particularly daunting on paper but could end up being brutal.

They’ll visit the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, both of whom are better than expected, before a weekend series in Washington DC Their off day after the three-city trip was lost because of a rainout in Detroit earlier this year, which is kind of appropriate. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Washington DC all tend to see weather issues during the summer. After visiting four cities in 11 days, the Giants will fly back across the country to face the A’s, who are awful, but always delight in giving the older brother a hard time.

It won’t be a fun stretch on their bodies, and the last couple of weeks were a reminder that position players sometimes wear down over the summer. On Wednesday, though, the Giants got a reminder that one man can lift a whole roster in this sport.

Alex Cobb did that against the Mariners, throwing six shutout innings and handing a 2-0 lead over to a red-hot back of the bullpen. Before the sun had even fully set, the Giants had salvaged a game in this series and took some positive vibes into a much-needed day off.

It was a performance Cobb might have to repeat quite a few times in the second half. The Giants don’t really have a rotation right now, but they have two very good right-handed arms going every five days.

Cobb and Logan Webb can take them a long way no matter what else is going on with the roster.

“I think (Cobb) is going to be critical for us down the stretch,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

As good as Webb has been, it might be Cobb who is best-suited to just completely shut the opponent down when the Giants really need it. Their offense struggled on Wednesday, with both runs coming after lucky breaks, but Cobb left with no runs on the scoreboard for the fifth time in 16 first half starts. He’ll head into the All-Star break with a 2.91 ERA.

“I think the overall body of work has been relatively good,” Cobb said. “I would like to be more consistent, have some more consistent length out of my outings. I feel like I had a lot of outings where I left after four, five innings, and that kind of puts everybody in a bind with the bullpen just not being able to set up the guys the way they’re meant to be set up and used.

“But I do look at my numbers overall and say that looks like a good body of work. I just feel like there’s more consistency that I could probably get better at.”

Cobb is his own harshest critic, and after six shutout innings and seven strikeouts, he noted that his stuff wasn’t very crisp and he needed help from his defense. He had his good sinker, though, and he threw it repeatedly, especially in two-strike counts.

Cobb was so good that Kapler thought of sticking with him longer, but the Rogers-Rogers-Doval plan is pretty hard to beat right now.

“Both Rogers have been tremendous,” Cobb said. “Tyler has been lights out all year, and Taylor has really turned it around since he threw his glove away. And then we have an All-Star closer that we’d like to use as much as we can. That’s kind of the formula for success for us.”

The trio closed out the first win of the home stand and set the Giants up well. The last-place Colorado Rockies are coming to town and then it’s four days off, which means Cobb might get eight or nine days off before he takes the ball again.

He noted that sometimes that’s not as ideal as it sounds, especially when you’re a starting pitcher who needs to find somewhere to throw and stay sharp while otherwise trying to enjoy a few days with family. But it should allow Cobb to get some rest heading into the second half, when the Giants will need him and Webb to be as good as they were before the break.

“I think we take a little bit more responsibility when the guys are kinda down to try to pick it up and win the game from our end, as much as we can,” Cobb said. “You’re going to have skids throughout the year. You’ve got to stop them and not let those long stretches take away from that great 10-game win streak that we had. You stop the bleeding and then hopefully get on a new winning streak.”

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