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Tampa Bay Rays Game 7: Jake Odorizzi’s Grounders Key Win

By Robbie Knopf

At his best, Jake Odorizzi can strike out more batters than any of the Rays’ other starters. A question he faces, though, is how he will react when his swing-and-miss stuff isn’t on for a particular game, let alone even longer if the league adjusts to him. Can Odorizzi continue to be successful even if his strikeouts regress towards the league average? We can expect the K’s to come back for his next start, but Odorizzi showcased a different side of himself as a pitcher as he sent down the Toronto Blue Jays.

Odorizzi went 8 innings allowing just 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking 3. The only run came in the fifth inning, when Kevin Pillar‘s bloop double was followed by Devon Travis‘ line drive RBI single. Odorizzi wasn’t nearly as overpowering as usual, but he blew away his career-high with 13 groundball outs against just 5 groundouts. Even without his best split-change, Odorizzi did an excellent job using all his pitches and forcing plenty of weak contact. His cutter in particular was excellent.

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The Rays two-hit the Blue Jays after Brad Boxberger worked a hitless ninth with the help of Rene Rivera throwing out Jose Bautista attempting to steal. They didn’t manage much offense of their own, racking up just 3 hits, but they scored twice in the fourth inning against R.A. Dickey on bases-loaded walks from David DeJesus and Steven Souza. The Rays have now scored 6 of their 30 runs on bases-loaded walks this season, which clearly isn’t sustainable, but plate discipline is still a notable strength of this team.

The players who scored on the walks were Desmond Jennings, who went 1 for 3 with a walk, 2 stolen bases, and a run scored, and Allan Dykstra, who went 1 for 3 with a walk, his first big league hit, and a run scored. It was great to see Jennings come away with his second and third stolen bases of the season after it took him 21 team games to reach that mark last season. The Rays would love to see Jennings run more, and this game gives him momentum towards that.

Another Rays player that needs some confidence is Souza. Aside from the walk and the RBI that came with it, he went 1 for 3 with his third hit of the season. The Rays’ belief in Souza hasn’t been swayed, but they would love to see him get hot. It was nice to see him come back from 1-2 down to score the eventual winning run in the game, and hopefully that will relax him a little more as he digs in against the Blue Jays in the next two contests.

The win evens out the records of the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays at 4-3, and each team will also be throwing a rookie tomorrow. Matt Andriese will make his first big league start opposing lefty Daniel Norris at 7:07 PM EST at Rogers Centre.