It just got a whole lot more serious for the Tampa Bay Rays. This game against the St. Louis Cardinals stood out as a big test for the Rays. They were smoking hot and looking for more against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Rays had just come off of a three game sweep against the Minnesota Twins and were looking to continue their upward trend. The problem was Adam Wainwright was standing in front of them, he of the lowest ERA in the major leagues at 1.83.
Opposing the master was Jake Odorizzi, who grew up watching the Cardinals, and in his last seven starts had surrendered no more than three earned runs in any game. It all started worryingly. Odorizzi went to 3-1 against lead off hitter Matt Carpenter and, on 3-2 pitch, Carpenter made Odorizzi pay, hitting a home run. Odorizzi settled down. Helping Odorizzi to settle down was Rays first baseman James Loney. Coming into the game today, he was 12 for 26 career against Adam Wainwright and that success would continue. He doubled to lead off the second and scored on an Odorizzi sac bunt in Odorizzi’s first at-bat since high school.
From there, Odorizzi settled down and relied on his trademark high fastballs to keep the Cardinals in check, striking out 8 in 5.2 innings. A shaky sixth inning kept him from registering a quality start. He struck out Kolten Wong to begin the frame but gave up a home run to Matt Holliday. Matt Adams followed with a single and Odorizzi, with his pitch count piling up, was able to strike out Jhonny Peralta for the third time. After Allen Craig walked, Jeff Beliveau came in and got the final out. Overall, it was a well pitched game from Jake Odorizzi. It is too bad that he couldn’t go longer, but he battled and gave the Rays a chance to win.
The offensive star of the game has to be James Loney. He came into the game 12-26 against Wainwright and went 2-2 the Cardinal ace and drew a bases loaded walk to add insult to injury. As has been the case for most of the season, Kevin Kiermaier continues to propel the Rays. The five-run fifth inning started with a Kiermaier walk and, by the time the inning was over, they had batted around and put themselves ahead for good. Then, in the 9th inning, the struggling Evan Longoria topped it all off with a solo home run in the ninth to give the Rays the 7-2 lead that proved to be the final.
The second and final game of the series is tomorrow as Alex Cobb goes against Lance Lynn at 7:15 PM EST. The Rays will be aiming for their seventh win in a row and further traction in the AL East race.