The Tampa Bay Rays had a bit of a blast from the past in the second game of their inter-league series against the Chicago Cubs, as former Ray and member of the 2008 “worst to first” team Edwin Jackson was on the mound for the Cubs. Jake Odorizzi and the Rays’ bullpen outdueled Jackson, combining to throw a shutout in the 4-0 victory. With the win, the Rays move to 57-59 on the season.
Odorizzi pretty much dominated Cubs hitters throughout his outing, throwing 6.0 innings and allowing just 3 hits and 0 walks while striking out 9. He wasn’t particularly efficient despite being so dominant, but the Rays will take this type of start from Odorizzi any day. They key for Odorizzi the entire start was his fastball- split-change combination. In fact, he almost entirely held off of his breaking ball the entire start, rather sticking with the combination that was devastating Cubs hitters from the 1st inning on.
Behind him, Kirby Yates had a nice outing, throwing 2.0 perfect innings while striking out 3. Yates’ biggest issue as a pitcher is getting left-handers out, however in the 7th he manged to strike out lefty Luis Valbuena and induce a weak infield fly off the bat of lefty Arismendy Alcantara. That certainly doesn’t mean his issues against lefties are fixed, but it does show that Yates could be at least passable against left-handers while pitching well against righties. After him, Jake McGee threw a shutout 9th inning. Seeing McGee in the game was a bit odd, after all he had pitched the day before, and the Rays had a comfortable 4-0 lead against a Cubs offense that had shown little signs of life. Using him to secure the victory just shows how much Joe Maddon and the Rays are prioritizing every win.
The Rays managed to plate a pair of runs in the 4th and 6th innings, and given the pitching staff’s dominance that was more than enough. Ben Zobrist had a great night once again, going 2 for 3 with a double, a walk and a pair of runs scored. As if hitting .337 in July wasn’t enough, Zobrist is on fire to start August, hitting .428 thus far. Also with a nice night was Yunel Escobar, who went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs. Since coming off the disabled list on July 11th, Escobar has been a solid contributor, hitting .313, albeit without much power. Evan Longoria also did a good job, scoring a pair of runs and driving in another.