Wednesday night’s 8-0 victory was about as perfect as it will ever get for the Tampa Bay Rays. If they are going to defy the odds and get back into the Wild Card race, this better be the start of some sort of extended run. The pitching was spectacular while the offense delivered big hit after big hit.
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Jake Odorizzi started and tossed 6 innings allowing no runs on 6 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. He had some serious issues with his splitter, allowing 5 of the 6 hits on the pitch, but he did an excellent job commanding his fastball all over the zone to counteract that. He was able to strand runners on second base in the first, third, and fifth innings between the strikeouts and a nice amount of groundouts–his groundout to flyout ratio was 5-2. Odorizzi entered this game having struggled in his previous two starts, but a game like this reminds us of the maturity he has demonstrated as a pitcher that will hopefully help him avoid extended slumps moving forward. He doesn’t need both his fastball and splitter to be working well to beat you anymore.
To wrap up the pitchers, C.J. Riefenhauser, Enny Romero, and Kirby Yates tossed a scoreless frame each behind Odorizzi. Riefenhauser walked the first batter he saw, but he rebounded after that, showing off his plus high-70’s to low-80’s breaking ball. Romero then got past a double with 2 strikeouts in his frame, touching 99 MPH with his fastball. Yates, meanwhile, was perfect with the help of a hard-hit ball going just foul. This game sadly marked his first shutout appearance in the majors since June 28th–he had given up at least one run in his last 6 games, surrendering a homer in each one.
On the offensive side, meanwhile, the Rays received a home run each by Logan Forsythe, Tim Beckham, J.P. Arencibia, and Mikie Mahtook. Forsythe and Beckham (especially Forsythe) keep mashing lefties while it was nice to see Arencibia and Mahtook go deep against right-handers. Mahtook especially struggled against right-handed pitchers at Triple-A and had been just 1 for 12 in the majors against them. He looks like he could be an excellent platoon player against lefties, but the dream is for him to make a Forsythe-esque improvement against same-side pitchers and garner additional playing time.
James Loney also went 3 for 3 with a walk in the game while Brandon Guyer went 2 for 5 with a double and Evan Longoria had a 1-for-3 evening with a walk and 2 runs. There were contributions up and down the lineup as the Rays went an impressive 4 for 8 (.500) with runners in scoring position and left just 6 men on base on their way to 8 runs. The Rays’ offense was clicking, and it was exciting to see.
The win takes the Tampa Bay Rays to 68-71 on the season, and they will be off on Thursday before heading home on Friday to start a series with the Boston Red Sox. Chris Archer will hope to find his form as he goes against ex-Rays draft pick Wade Miley in a game set to begin at 7:10 PM EST.