Alex Cobb

Alex Cobb's first-inning struggles continue in Giants' loss to Braves

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Alex Cobb's first-inning struggles during the 2023 MLB season, combined with the Atlanta Braves' success in the opening frame, was a recipe for disaster for the Giants on Friday night at Truist Park in Atlanta.

And even though Cobb only allowed two runs in the first inning against the Braves, the Giants simply had no answer in a 4-0 loss to the best team in baseball.

Cobb might have been able to escape unscathed, but Brandon Crawford bobbled a potential inning-ending double play ball and only managed to record one out, allowing Ronald Acuña Jr. to score and extend the frame. Eddie Rosario tacked on another run with a single to center.

Following Friday's game, Cobb's first-inning ERA rose to 6.26 in 23 outings, his highest in any inning this season. On the flip side, the Braves now have scored a staggering 122 runs in the opening inning this season, 31 more than the Los Angeles Dodgers (91).

Acting co-manager Kai Correa tried to find the bright side in Cobb's outing.

"The best way I'd describe it is he gave us a chance," Correa told reporters. "He's navigating a really tough lineup in the Atlanta Braves, and yeah, he left some over the middle but I felt like he settled in. Gave us the length we needed and he had two innings that potentially end on a double play ball that our guys have made this season that kind of extend the inning. But I thought he did a good job giving us a shot."

Cobb ultimately allowed eight hits and four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, while walking two and striking out three.

"I pitched fine," Cobb told reporters after the game. "It wasn't anything good, it wasn't anything terrible, but just really trying to compete, fill up the zone. Feel like I did that for the most part until probably that last inning. But gave up some hard-hit balls early and then felt like I settled down after that, but obviously not the outcome we were looking for."

Aside from the Crawford bobble in the first inning, Cobb was hurt again in the sixth inning when third baseman J.D. Davis took too long to get a Acuna Jr. grounder out of his glove, killing a chance for another inning-ending double play.

Acuna was the last batter Cobb would face, and reliever Scott Alexander allowed the next hitter, Michael Harris II, to single to center, bringing home Sean Murphy and tacking on the final run to Cobb's ledger.

"If you're able to get those, you hope to be able to work a little bit deeper into the game and maybe save the bullpen a little bit," Cobb told reporters. "But it's a game of inches and seconds, and they were able to beat both of those out. The first one was kind of weird with the runner overrunning second base after the bobble. I don't know if we would have gotten him anyway. But then the last one would have been nice to have. It was kind of the way things have been going, not really bouncing our way right now."

Correa, filling in for manager Gabe Kapler, who was suspended for the game, knows Crawford usually makes that play, and the veteran shortstop admitted he might have been a little too anxious to turn the double play.

"I think I was a little over-excited that I caught it because it was like you said, it was hard hit, kind of in between hop just kind of hoping that it went in my glove and it did and I think … I rushed it a little bit, rushed the exchange and, obviously didn't get the double play because of it," Crawford told reporters after the game.

Against the juggernaut like the Braves (79-42), who had their ace Spencer Strider on the mound, the Giants (64-58) had no room for error. The MLB strikeout leader punched out 10 San Francisco hitters, pushing his total to 227 this season. Atlanta pitchers allowed just two hits, one by Wilmer Flores and the other by Patrick Bailey.

Now the Giants have to hope that ace Logan Webb can serve as a stopper and get them back on track Saturday. If their offense and defense decide to show up, that would be a huge help.

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