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Tampa Bay Rays Game 21: Brian McCann Has Jake Odorizzi’s Number

By Robbie Knopf

Jake Odorizzi‘s worst start of 2015 came on Tuesday night, but “worst” is certainly a relative term. A struggling Odorizzi still gave the Tampa Bay Rays 6.1 innings and a second straight game where they didn’t have to use their four best relievers. He still didn’t walk a batter while striking out 4 and forced a 9-4 groundout to flyout ratio. However, he did allow 4 runs on 9 hits, with Brian McCann proving to be a thorn in his side.

Odorizzi allowed a pair of runs in the first inning as he failed to get off to the best start. Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole second, advanced to third on Rene Rivera‘s throwing error, and scored on Brett Gardner‘s groundout. After doubles by Mark Teixeira and McCann, the Yankees had a 2-0 lead. The Rays made it 2-1 on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s RBI double, but McCann drilled a two-out, two-run double to make it 4-1 New York. McCann entered the game hititng .615–8 for 13–against Odorizzi, and finished at .625.

Odorizzi struggled all night at commanding his fastball, badly enough that he finished with more split-changes (45) than fastballs (43) in the game. He consistently left his fastball up, including on McCann’s two-run double, and the fact that he located just 2 of the 10 curveballs and cutters he threw for strikes certainly didn’t help matters. Odorizzi’s split-change still had its moments, like when he struck out Teixiera on a nasty offering just before McCann’s double, but it wasn’t enough in this game.

Yet on a different night, maybe we would have been able to say that Odorizzi kept the Rays in the game and was rewarded with a victory. The Rays made it 4-2 on Logan Forsythe‘s RBI triple in the sixth inning and had several opportunities to score more than the two runs they finished with. They failed to get runners home with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning, with a man on third with one out in the third, with a man on second and one out in the fourth, and even with a man on third and no one out after Forsythe’s hit, but they came up empty each time.

Cabrera, Forsythe, James Loney, and Kevin Kiermaier all came up with multiple hits in the game, but the Tampa Bay Rays just couldn’t get hits at the right times. They finished 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on-base in the game. From one perspective that is inexcusable–from another, they simply got unlucky. In either case, the Rays better find ways to push more runs across in their coming contests.

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Xavier Cedeno had a solid first appearance with the Rays. It began inauspiciously as Ellsbury easily stole second against him and advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Cedeno then got Ellsbury out in a rundown on Gardner’s grounder back to the mound. Then, after intentionally walking Teixeira, Cedeno came away with a strikeout against McCann. Erasmo Ramirez then finished the game with an excellent relief inning, striking Chris Young before forcing two groundouts.

The Rays will hope to salvage a game against the Yankees tomorrow at 1:10 PM as they send Drew Smyly to the hill against Michael Pineda.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Who Will Be on Roster When Wounded Return?