The 12 years he spent in the Rays organization, and the seven seasons he was around the big-league team, mean the world to Alex Cobb.
But Wednesday he wasn't in the mood for memories.
After a third straight outing for his new Orioles team ended badly, Cobb said he had more pressing issues that the specifics of facing his former team, and the five hitters in the Tampa Bay lineup he played with.
"This whole search that I'm on trying to get right is tough," Cobb said. "It's tough to watch. It's tough to play behind. It is even more tough to be out there on the mound doing it. There are no excuses."
Cobb got off to a decent start, wriggling out of a first-inning jam allowing only one run, then rolling through the next three relatively smoothly, allowing a single in each.
"It's the best I've felt throwing the ball," Cobb said. "Feeling my arm throw the ball, the angle that my arm has to come out in, the movement on the two-seam really tells you a lot. I was really feeling good. I was really thinking this is going to be one of those nights where I put it on kinda cruise control. I see a spot and I hit it. I coast through six, seven innings.
"That's what I thought it was shaping put to be. And it came to a screeching halt there."
The fifth was indeed ugly while it lasted for Cobb.
Three straight hits by Adeiny Hechavarria, Denard Span and C.J. Cron led to two runs. A sac fly by Brad Miller that scored Cron gave the Rays a 4-3 lead, and a Daniel Robertson double and a Joey Wendle single made it 5-3. When Cobb then walked Wilson Ramos, Orioles manager Buck Showalter had seen enough.
The five runs he allowed on 10 hits added to his rough start since his late spring signing to a hefty $57 million, four-year deal. Cobb is 0-3, 13.11, allowing 20 runs (17 earned) on 30 hits and three walks.
"It's the toughest thing I've had to do as a big leaguer," Cobb said. "Just feel like you're behind and going turbo speed to kind of catch back up with everybody. Just knowing that you're doing too much versus the right amount is tough and you can throw to your arm falls off between starts to make up for that time you miss and it ends up hurting you there in the end too.
"This is tough, but I've got to find a way to get it going and get it going quick. I know I will. It's hard to see from the outside because nobody knows me and nobody has really seen me go through struggles in the past. But I know when I have the ball what I can do with it. Just a matter of getting
The Rays said they saw glimpses during the night that were vintage Cobb, OF Mallex Smith joking that they were lucky to get him Wednesday night because by the next time "we'll have to pack a lunch" in facing him.
Cobb seemed to have a sharp curveball Wednesday, though had some issues with fastball command and didn't make much use of his split-finger changeup.
"It's really not my place to say, but knowing him for the last few years, he's really close to feeling really good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "The fastball, the curveball from the side looks like the same curveball that's got a lot of bite to it and can create swing and miss and get a lot of ground balls with that. We just got the ball up maybe enough on him today to piece together some innings."
Cobb said he knows he just has to keep working at it, trying to make up for his abbreviated spring training.
"You've got to throw the ball," Cobb said. "You can't do anything to replace reps. You can try to do all the dry work, all the bullpens, all the video work, anything you want. But until you get that ball in your hand and a big-league hitter staring you down, trying to pound the strike zone the way you want to, nothing will replicate that.
"There's a lot of positives for myself to take away from tonight, which is tough to say because it was a difficult loss for us. It's been a difficult stretch. The only thing I can do is try to take away some positives, which I definitely will be."