Right-hander Alex Cobb will make his first start since June 15 on Thursday as the Rays take on the Mariners in the rubber match of the series. Cobb sustained a concussion when he was struck in the head with a line drive off the bat of Eric Hosmer against the Royals on June 15 at Tropicana Field.
"I always expected to get rid of all the symptoms," Cobb said. "The doctors let me know everything was going to be all right after we knew there was no skull fracture or bleeding in the brain on the first night. We knew it was going to be a slow, steady recovery process and once that was over, I would be back to normal."
Prior to his injury, the 25-year-old was 6-2 with a 3.01 ERA in 13 starts.
Cobb will hope to create some momentum for Tampa Bay, which ended a six-game losing streak with Wednesday night's 5-4 victory over Seattle. The Rays are three games behind Boston in the American League East standings and three ahead of Baltimore for the second Wild Card spot.
To do so, he'll have to outduel Mariners lefty Joe Saunders, who interim manager Robby Thompson says pitched well in his last outing against the Brewers, despite allowing nine runs (four earned).
"He got ground balls and we didn't make the plays behind him," Thompson said.
Saunders is making just his third career start against the Rays and first since 2008. He is 0-2 with an 7.59 ERA in his two previous starts against them.
Mariners: Slumping Ibanez back in lineup
Raul Ibanez wasn't in the lineup on Wednesday against Rays lefty David Price, but is expected to start on Thursday against right-hander Alex Cobb. After hitting 24 home runs in his first 71 games this season, Ibanez has gone 21 starts without a long ball.
His last homer came on July 12, when he hit a pair against the Angels. Ibanez also has just two RBIs in his last 19 games.
• Michael Saunders started in left field on Wednesday, with Dustin Ackley again in center and Michael Morse in right.
"They're all going to play," acting manager Robby Thompson said. "Saunders is going to play. They're both in tonight. Now it's a matter of giving Raul a night off against a tough lefty. He'll be back in there. With Saunders, we'll be mixing and matching and making sure nobody is out for any lengthy period of time where they lose it. You try to keep everybody sharp and healthy and fit for the remainder of the season."
Rays: Moore won't pitch on Saturday
Lefty Matt Moore says his recovery is right on schedule, but his return to the lineup isn't. The Rays originally planned to have him return to the starting rotation on Saturday against the Blue Jays, but he says his left elbow -- which was irritated in a loss to the Yankees on July 28 -- is still too sore to return from the 15-day disabled list.
"I felt good, but good isn't great and good isn't 100 percent," Moore said. "We're looking to be 100 percent. There are still a few things in doubt that we're not comfortable with. We're just going to give it a couple more days and see where we're at."
• Brad Miller's triple in Wednesday's loss to the Rays was his fifth in 40 Major League games, enough to lead all American League rookies.
• The last time the Rays had a six-game losing streak was in 2011, when they lost their first six games of the season. They went on to win 23 of their next 32 contests.
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.