On Tuesday night, Jake Odorizzi returned to dominance for the Tampa Bay Rays, tossing 6 innings allowing 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 8 while walking 1. Xavier Cedeno and Steve Geltz looked great behind him, allowing a lone baserunner in their 2 combined innings of work. On the offensive side, meanwhile, Evan Longoria stayed red-hot by hitting a solo home run. That all makes sense. But it was a series of outcomes that we could not have seen coming that turned this game into a 10-2 win that was quite possibly the Rays’ best of the year.
Curt Casali is going to wake up tomorrow morning and immediately go to his phone to google “curt casali 2 home runs.” He has to make sure that Monday’s game–let alone Tuesday’s game–wasn’t just a figment of his imagination. Well, it did really happen as Casali continues to play out of his mind. For the second straight game, he went 3 for 4 with 2 home runs and 3 RBI. To once again illustrate how crazy that is, we bring back the following statistic: Curt Casali never had a multi-homer game in college or the minor leagues. Now he has done it in two straight MLB games! What?
Asdrubal Cabrera was also excellent in his return from the DL, going 3 for 3 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and 3 runs scored, while Tim Beckham went 2 for 4 with a triple, 4 RBI, and a run scored. Steven Souza Jr. also had a great game, going 2 for 2 with a double and 2 runs scored. The Rays had a nice time against ex-teammate David Price, getting him for 5 runs in 6 innings, before unloading entirely on Neftali Feliz. Feliz recorded just one out while allowing 5 runs on 4 hits.
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Back to Casali, do the Rays have any choice but to anoint him their starting catcher until this streak ends? Casali has now played in four straight games–he has to at least DH tomorrow–but the Rays simply can’t take his bat out of the lineup. Rene Rivera has also been hitting better of late, but neither him nor anyone else on the Rays has gone off like this in a long time. Other thoughts that come to mind from this game are the following: 1) Expect Beckham to play more positions (first base, left field) so he can get more at-bats alongside Cabrera and Logan Forsythe, 2) The Rays still think that Cabrera can regain his offensive form from previous seasons, and 3) How great would it be if Souza could catch fire again?
Odorizzi also deserves more than one sentence. This game was extremely reminiscent of the pitcher he was at his best last season as his fastball up and splitter down were as good as we have seen in a long time. He wasn’t particularly efficient with his pitches and much of the contact he allowed came in the air, but it is great to see Odorizzi showing multiple ways to beat opposing teams. Sometimes he can overpower you, and the rest of the time, he can spot his pitches well and keep you off-balance on his way to lasting deep into the game.
The Tampa Bay Rays go for the sweep of the Detroit Tigers tomorrow at 12:10 PM, and what a lift that would be for them if they can pull it off. These last two games have been great, but now the Rays need to turn this into a sustainable stretch of strong play. Chris Archer heads to the mound against struggling former ace Justin Verlander.