Tampa Bay Rays Game 92: Jake Odorizzi Struggles Out of Gate

By Robbie Knopf

The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t play particularly well on Friday night, but one thing we can say is that Jake Odorizzi‘s bad start left them with almost no chance of winning. An interesting factor in baseball is that a bad start can ruin everything even for a great team while an excellent outing can put a terrible franchise ahead of the best team in baseball. Don’t call the Rays a great team or a terrible one, but this was a case where the Rays looked mostly decent aside from Odorizzi and particularly aside from a rough fifth inning.

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The Rays improbably led the game 1-0 after 3 innings on a Grady Sizemore solo home run. I say surprisingly because Odorizzi had walked 4 batters while striking out 1 in his first 3 frames. That was far from a promising sign, and things only got worse. A sac fly following 2 hits knotted the game up in the fourth before Odorizzi wilted entirely in the following frame, allowing 4 hits and another walk on his way to giving up 5 runs. The big blows were a Josh Donaldson 2-run shot and a 3-run homer by Justin Smoak. Suddenly it was a 6-1 ballgame. An Evan Longoria double and a Logan Forsythe single made it 6-2, but the game never got closer than that.

Every pitcher has his bad games, and this was one of those for Odorizzi. His stuff was great as he was hitting 93 MPH with his fastball, but he was missing spots with all of his pitches and it was going to be only a matter of time until the Blue Jays got to him. This may have been the worst showing we have ever seen from his control. Everything about this outing seemed aberrant for Odorizzi, and while he did also walk 3 batters in his previous start, we have to believe that he will return to effectiveness when the Rays next give him the ball.

Aside from the limited offense, a huge highlight in this game was the Rays’ bullpen. Alex Colome had his first truly great outing out of the bullpen, tossing 1.2 perfect innings with 1 strikeout and 2 groundouts. We know how electric Colome’s stuff is and that most starters can perform better in relief, but it’s nice to see some actual proof that he can be as good as we imagined. Maybe the All-Star Break was a good time for Colome to mentally adapt to his new role. Steve Geltz and Brandon Gomes also tossed a scoreless inning each.

The loss takes the Tampa Bay Rays back to .500 at 46-46, and they will send Erasmo Ramirez to the mound against R.A. Dickey tomorrow at 1:07 PM EST.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Up or Down After the All-Star Break?