ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Jarred Cosart had difficulty getting to sleep, so he spent much of the night before his major league debut online and learned he was about to face the hottest team in baseball.
Turns out he had little reason to be restless.
The 23-year-old Cosart took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and the Houston Astros beat AL Cy Young Award winner David Price 2-1 on Friday night to end the Tampa Bay Rays’ season-best, eight-game winning streak.
“I try to stay off the Internet the day before, but I couldn’t sleep last night,” he said. “So I was messing around, I looked at the Rays’ website, I see: `Streaking Rays, Price pitching,’ all that good stuff.
“It’s a natural instinct. You’re like, `OK, they’re good.”
Cosart (1-0) limited the Rays, who have won 10 of 12 during a 14-game stretch against the American League’s three worst teams, to a pair of walks before All-Star Ben Zobrist singled with one out in the seventh. Evan Longoria grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Cosart was he was “very nervous” before facing Price, who reached out to him on Twitter early Friday.
“He tweeted at me this morning and said good luck, and most of all have fun,” Cosart said. “I look up to him. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game.
“That was my thing, not to go out there and try to be David Price or beat David Price. He’s a Cy Young winner, All-Star, all that stuff. I knew if I did that I’d probably overthrow. I just wanted to go out there and be myself, pitch down in the zone.”
Carlos Corporan’s two-run, first-inning single provided all the support Cosart needed to beat Price (3-5), who allowed eight hits and struck out three in a complete-game performance.
Four of the five Rays who reached base against Cosart were erased by double plays. Jose Veras gave up an unearned run on Luke Scott’s two-out RBI single in the ninth, but struck out Longoria with the potential tying run on third base to notch his 18th save.
“You watched him in spring training. The times he went out you could tell this is a special arm,” Houston manager Bo Porter said. “What I like about tonight was the level of composure he displayed.
“I just thought he did a great job of managing his emotions and really honing in on exactly how he wanted to pitch guys.”
It was the second straight day that a rookie right-hander made his big league debut against a reigning Cy Young winner. Cleveland’s Danny Salazar took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the Indians’ 4-2 victory over R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
Cosart was equally impressive after being promoted earlier Friday from Triple A Oklahoma City, where he went 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 18 appearances, including 17 starts.
He began the night by retiring nine in a row before walking Desmond Jennings to lead off the fourth. Wil Myers drew a one-out walk in the fifth, but was erased when Matt Joyce grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Zobrist hit a one-hopper past diving second baseman Jose Altuve for Tampa Bay’s first hit. Loney singled leading off the eighth, but Houston turned its third double play to thwart the prospect of a comeback.
Porter was reluctant to compare Cosart’s debut with those of other young pitchers who have made an early splash.
“I think a lot of times when you have guys come up who are top prospects, one of the worst things you can do is start throwing out comparables,” Porter said. “Jarred Cosart will establish who Jarred Cosart is, and I want to give him an opportunity to do that. I think he has the stuff to be an elite pitcher in this league, and over time he will answer all those questions.”
Despite a rough first inning, Price was solid in his third start since rejoining the Rays from a 47-day stay on the disabled list with a triceps strain. He beat the Astros 8-0 at Minute Maid Park in his return on July 2, then held the Chicago White Sox to one run in a complete game victory last Sunday.
Houston scattered four hits over the final eight innings, but only had one runner—Matt Dominguez who doubled leading off the fifth—get past first base.
“That first inning, that puts us in a hole. That’s probably part of the reason Cosart had so much success,” Price said. “I gave him two runs before he made a pitch, and I know the difference in having runs, especially if you can get them in the first before you go out there.”
NOTES: With the All-Star break beginning Monday, Cosart will return to Triple-A Oklahoma City “so he can stay in turn and then hopefully rejoin” the Astros at some point this year,” Porter said. … Astros OF Justin Maxwell on the seven-day concussion disabled list, will be activated on Saturday to replace Cosart on the roster. … Before this week, only two pitchers had made their big league debuts against a reigning Cy Young Award winner since 2000—Edwin Jackson for the Dodgers against Randy Johnson in 2003, and John Danks for the White Sox against Johan Santana in 2007. … The Rays went 24-20 while Price was on the DL. They are 10-2 since his return. … After Tampa Bay pitchers struck out 32 in the final two games of a four-game sweep on Minnesota, Price fanned three on Friday. The franchise record for a three-game span is 42.