It was a bit of sentimental moment for the Tampa Bay Rays as they played the Kansas City Royals today. Former Ray and fan favorite James Shields returned to make his first start at Tropicana field since being traded to the Kansas City Royals prior to the 2013 season. Ironically, one of the players that the Rays received in that deal, Jake Odorizzi, was on the mound for the Rays. Unfortunately, the Rays would lose to their former pitcher, dropping the game 6-0.
The Rays’ offense had no answer for Shields the entire night. He would go 7.0 innings, allowing only 3 hits while striking out 10 and walking 1. Former Ray Wade Davis, traded to the Royals in the same deal as Shields, also threw a scoreless inning in the game. Ben Zobrist was the only player who did much of anything for the offense, as he went 2 for 3 with a walk. Zobrist has rebounded in a big way after a subpar first half of the season, hitting .373 in his last 11 games, but as tonight shows that doesn’t matter if the rest of the Rays offense isn’t playing well. The good news is that the Rays offense has been doing just fine lately. A poor night is to be expected every once in a while.
Odorizzi’s final line was solid in this game, as he went 6.0 innings and allowed just 2 3rd inning runs, striking out 8 and walking 2. However, this start left more to be desired from Odorizzi. His command was not at its finest for a majority of the game, and his stuff, particularly his curveball, was a tick behind what it has been for most of the season. Odorizzi was fortunate to face a reeling Royals offense, who could not take advantage of Odorizzi on a night when he wasn’t as sharp as normal. All of that said, Odorizzi did a great job of battling to put together a good start- a sign of great maturity from him despite the fact that he is a rookie.
Kirby Yates would come on in relief behind Odorizzi, and he would fire a scoreless inning. He has been solid in his first big league action, posting a 2.03 ERA through 14.1 innings thus far. Juan Carlos Oviedo came on looking to shut the Royals down in the 8th and 9th, however he could not do so. Aided by a Kevin Kiermaier defensive miscue, Oviedo would give up 2 runs on 3 hits in the 8th. Kiermaier has shown outstanding defensive ability so far in the big leagues, but he can get a bit reckless at points and has to work on honing that in a bit. Oviedo would come back out for the 9th, allowing 2 more runs and giving up 4 more hits. Oviedo carried a 2.48 ERA into this game, but it has now ballooned a full run to 3.48- the first time it has been in the 3.00′s since May 8th.
The Rays and Royals will be back in action tomorrow at 7:10 ET. Jeremy Hellickson will be making his season debut for the Rays after missing time thanks to offseason elbow surgery. He will be opposed by Jason Vargas.