BALTIMORE -- Following Alex Cobb's six-inning stint against the Orioles on Tuesday night, manager Joe Maddon referred to Cobb's curveball as "elite" and even suggested that Cobb's curve might be the best in the Major Leagues.
"I haven't really thought too much about what he said," said Cobb on Wednesday. "It might have just been one of those nights where it was working really well for me."
Cobb did not throw the pitch much early in his career, especially if it was late in a count, because he didn't have the necessary confidence in the pitch to do so.
"I thought I had better options to go to," he said. "Now maybe I'm starting to realize the impact it can have later in the counts, get more comfortable with that, start being able to move it in and out of the zone when I want to."
Cobb adopted the knuckle-curve just over a year ago, learning the pitch from former Rays pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.
"Pretty much the whole staff was throwing the knuckle-curve," he said, "so I started throwing it. You're really just throwing it with one finger. It's gotten to the point where I'm able to throw it a lot harder. Before it was 77, 79 [mph]. Now it's 79, 82 sometimes."
Cobb credits the angle of the pitch coming out of his hand with having a lot to do with its success.
"It comes out like a fastball, straight," he said. "It doesn't pop up. So it looks like my fastball or changeup. It comes out of the same plane. So maybe I'm just getting more confidence with it. And with more confidence in a pitch comes more drive throughout the pitch and more ways to explore how to throw the pitch in different counts."
Moore gets peace of mind after bullpen session
BALTIMORE -- Left-hander Matt Moore had a glow about him following Wednesday's bullpen session in the visitors' bullpen at Camden Yards.
To simulate game conditions, Moore, who is working his way back from a sore left elbow, dressed for the occasion.
"I even had my jockstrap and cup on," Moore said. "I think I threw 69 pitches total and sat down one time. I wasn't planning on sitting down, it was just that warm out there today.
"Even with the sitdown, I threw some changeups before and after, and it felt really good. This is by far the best bullpen we've thrown in this process, so we're very encouraged by it. Saturday looks like the best day to throw a sim game, and we'll re-evaluate after that as far as the workload before my next start."
Passing Wednesday's hurdle brought Moore some peace of mind.
"It's a relief to get that [over with]," he said. "It's like taking a test in the morning and getting the results at the same time. Today was kind of a test for us to see where we were at after that many pitches. I think the original target was around 50, maybe 60.
"We were feeling so good, we kept going. It was warm out there and I was feeling like I was getting a good workout, so it did a couple of different things for me. It let me know that my pitches, I was able to throw those pain-free, and I was able to get some conditioning in my arm, which I haven't been able to do off the mound in a few days."
Moore was asked if the 69-pitch bullpen session could lead to him getting into a game sooner than expected.
"I hope so," he said. "That's obviously a decision for someone else to make. If I feel really good coming out of the sim game on Saturday, I'll do everything to pitch a case for that a little bit sooner."
Manager Joe Maddon has ideas about the next step for Moore but said the club wants to go "one step at a time."
"This was the next step that we saw today," Maddon said. "[Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield] came in feeling really strong and good about it. So we'll do the thing on Saturday. Then after that we'll have ideas for the next thing, but we want to make sure before we go ahead and plan it."
Maddon did allow that the next thing for Moore following Saturday's sim game will not be a Major League game.
Third annual Mystery Ball on tap for Saturday
BALTIMORE -- The Rays Wives will host the third annual Mystery Ball to benefit All Children's Hospital on Saturday, when the Rays play the Yankees.
Wrapped baseballs autographed by Rays players and All-Stars from around the league will go on sale for $40 each at gates 1 and 5 when gates open. Because each baseball is wrapped, fans will not know whose autograph they received until after purchase. There will also be a silent auction of game-used and one-of-a-kind Rays items.
"It's probably the best collection of balls we've had because of the fact we played Interleague," said hitting coach Derek Shelton, whose wife, Ally, is leading the effort. "We've got [Yasiel] Puig in there and [Clayton] Kershaw. You've got Carl Crawford back in there. [Robinson] Cano's in there, Mariano [Rivera's] in there. I think the silent-auction items are the best that we've ever had, too."
Shelton has worked behind the scenes all season to get opposing players to sign baseballs.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.