A strong pitching performance by Cesar Ramos headlined a 5-4 win on Thursday night over the Minnesota Twins. The Rays put up just enough offense and made a few nice plays defensively to get their 14th win of the spring.
Ramos made the start was very impressive in his final start before the Rays make the decision on who will be the 5th starter. He went 4.2 scoreless innings while allowing 4 hits, striking out 6 and only walking 1. Ramos made the quite the impression on his manager as after the game Joe Maddon said he’s never seen him that good. His command was on point throughout his entire outing and used his typical 90-91 MPH fastball and long breaking curve to keep hitters off balance. A few nice defensive plays in the field helped out his cause including a dazzling 6-4-3 double play where Yunel Escobar made a great play going to his far left into the outfield to make the play. Ramos needed to have a strong outing tonight to have a chance at winning the 5th starter battle and he certainly delivered. Grant Balfour threw to one batter in the 5th and struck him out on what appeared to be a high changeup but nonetheless got the swing for strike three.
Jake Odorizzi had a rough outing overall but started out very strong. His first two innings pitched he was in complete command of the zone and found success using his new split change including a nice strikeout of Joe Mauer. In the last two innings of the game, Odorizzi looked like a completely different pitcher. His command evaded him and he left his 90-92 MPH fastball up in the zone and got hit around. One thing that should be taken into account is that after the 7th inning the Rays made a line change and put an entirely different lineup in the field including replacing starting catcher Ryan Hanigan with Mayo Acosta, which could have been a contributing factor to Odorizzi’s poor final innings. At the end of the game Odorizzi ended up with 4 innings pitched, 4 runs allowed (3 earned) on 6 hits while striking out 3 and walking 1. Despite this overall poor outing Odorizzi still probably remains the favorite to land the 5th starter role.
The Rays regular offense continued to hit and racked up 11 hits and scored 5 runs on the night. Yunel Escobar and Sean Rodriguez each went 2 for 3 on the night with a pair of singles. Evan Longoria went 1 for 3 with a ground rule double hit to the right field corner that drove in a pair of runs. Ben Zobrist also went 1 for 3 with an RBI.
After the regulars departed, Jerry Sands continued his impressive spring training by smashing a double of the left field wall and scored a run. Justin Christian and Ray Olmedo each added RBI hits to add to the lead.