Jake Odorizzi knew he was up exclusively because of the double header. He knew that his major league stint, at least this time through, was to be a brief one. If he was to try to prove that his first two starts were not indicative of the type of pitcher he can be, this would be his best chance.
Odorizzi certainly made the most of his opportunity last night, pitching an excellent game against the Boston Red Sox. He gave up one run on five hits, striking out two batters in his 5.2 innings, victimized by a solo home run by Daniel Nava. He struggled throwing first pitch strikes, doing so to only ten of the 21 batters he faced, but Odorizzi was able to overcome that, generally getting ahead in the count and getting harmless fly balls.
What was impressive with Odorizzi was how he responded to adversity. Twice, he had two men on, and got out of the jam. Perhaps the biggest outs he recorded came in the fifth, when he had runners on first and second with one out and the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate. Odorizzi quickly got ahead 1-2 before getting Ellsbury to ground into a 6-3 double play to keep the Rays within a run.
Getting a result like that could go a long way towards Odorizzi potentially feeling as though he belongs in the majors, especially as he went into last night’s game with a career 6.86 ERA in five games, while giving up just under 1.7 baserunners per inning. This time, he left with the best start of his major league career.
A performance like the one that Jake Odorizzi had last night can only help his confidence for the next time he pitches in the majors. He performed well against one of the top teams in baseball, and a division rival at that. Perhaps this start can help Odorizzi reach his potential, as he looks to become a piece of the Rays rotation of the future.