Sean Rodriguez took a day off for paternity leave yesterday and celebrated the birth of his fourth child by leading the Rays to an 8-1 defeat against the Texas Rangers. The Rays started an all-right handed lineup against Texas left hander Joe Saunders, and took advantage of several Ranger mistakes to garner their third win of the young season.
Saunders struggled to find the strike zone after striking out Desmond Jennings in the bottom of the first. He walked Wil Myers and Ben Zobrist and gave up a single to Evan Longoria to load the bases for Logan Forsythe. Saunders caught Forsythe looking but then hit Rodriguez to score the Rays’ first run before getting Brandon Guyer out to end the inning. In the third, Ben Zobrist reached on an error by shortstop Elvis Andrus. Saunders then walked Longoria and Forsythe flew out. That brought Rodriguez to the plate with two on. Saunders grooved one and Rodriguez deposited it in the left field stands for a 4-0 Rays lead.
Jake Odorizzi earned his first major league win by holding the Rangers scoreless for the first six innings. He showed good command and baffled batters with ‘The Thing’, a changeup he learned from Alex Cobb that he mixed well with fastballs and sliders. Prince Fielder got caught in a rundown between home and third to help Odorizzi escape some trouble in the fourth. Overall, Odorizzi struck out four and only allowed three hits in six innings. If he keeps pitching this way, the Rays will have some tough choices to make when Jeremy Hellickson is ready to return.
The Rays added a run in the bottom of the fourth when Wil Myers ripped a single up the middle to drive Desmond Jennings in from second, where he was waiting after hitting his fifth double of the season. More Ranger errors (they made 4 in all) helped the Rays break open the game in the sixth. After Sean Rodriguez led off with a double, Prince Fielder dropped Brandon Guyer’s easy pop foul. Given new life, Guyer hit a hot grounder to Beltre at third, who fumbled it and made a bad throw. Right-hander Daniel McCutchen then threw a fastball down the middle to Ryan Hanigan, who redirected it over the left center field fence for an 8-0 lead.
Josh Lueke pitched the 7th and 8th, allowing one run. He might have allowed more runs had the Rays not won their first-ever replay challenge in the 8th. Will Myers made a sliding catch with two outs that was originally ruled no catch. The umpires reversed themselves after reviewing the tape. Jake McGee got the Rangers out 1-2-3 in the ninth, showing a curveball to accompany his 98 mph fastball.
So far this season Rays pitchers have held opponents to an average of 2.4 runs per game, while the offense averaged over 5 runs per game. The team has averaged 8 runs and 11 hits in their three victories. The defense also looked sharp tonight, with some nice defensive plays from Sean Rodriguez to accompany his big bat. Ryan Hanigan made a good catch of a high pop foul, and of course, Wil Myers contributed a sliding catch.
Tomorrow night David Price makes his second start of the season against Nick Martinez, who will make his major league debut. The game is at 7:10 PM Eastern. Return to Rays Colored Glasses tomorrow for our preview and recap.