Today is Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb's 26th birthday, and he's been tasked with the responsibility of shutting down the high-powered Boston Red Sox and staving off elimination for his team.
Cobb is personally making sure he's doing all that he can, and not just with his pitching.
Cobb turned not one, but two absolutely outstanding defensive plays to end the first two innings on Monday.
His second-inning play was pure instinct. Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks hit a squibber off to the third-base side of the mound. Cobb raced over, grabbed the ball with his bare hand and fired a no-look throw to James Loney at first base.
And that was an inning after he made an outstanding diving play to stab a ground ball off the bat of Daniel Nava to end the first inning.
The Rays lost Game 1 of the American League Division Series after right fielder Wil Myers backed off of a deep fly ball from the bat of David Ortiz. The gaffe led to a five-run inning for the Rays, and the team that's been known for its stellar defense hasn't displayed that as of yet in the first two games of the series.
Fans on Twitter were certainly impressed with Cobb's defensive skills. And considering the Rays' defense to this point in the series, it was a welcomed sight.
alex cobb has clearly come to play, if only the rest of the team did— Daniel Zahradnik (@djz84) October 7, 2013
Yes sox fans, alex cobb is the only RAY who can field. He catches all fly balls, fields all ground balls, throws and catches them at 1st— Graham Chamberlain (@grahampage28) October 7, 2013
Impressive athleticism from Alex Cobb on a few early defensive plays. Versatile.— Andrew Astleford (@aastleford) October 7, 2013
Cobb has already been through a lot this season. He took a line drive to the head off the bat of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer in June.
He spoke about his recovery and his return to the mound in his pregame press conference before Monday's Game 3 start.
Cobb was brilliant following his return, making nine starts with a 2.70 ERA.
Now, he's fighting for his team's postseason life, and he's clearly doing all he can to ensure that the Rays can live for another day.
Doug Mead’s work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.