Rick Porcello sifted the Rays lineup well, allowing just one hit through the first 21 outs. The single was a pitch low and away that Zobrist reached for and kept fair up the left field line. I'm glad he did, because the Rays would have otherwise been on alert for a no-hitter.
Fortunately, Jake Odorizzi hadn't left his A-game in tonight's start in the clubhouse and could have given the Rays a chance. Could have.
Despite striking out two in the first inning, Hodor did allow an earned run in the first. Miguel Cabrera hit a tapper up the middle that rolled into center field, and Victor Martinez ricocheted one off the first base bag into right field for a ribbie. Kevin Kiermaier played the ball at the wall, and through he had difficulty picking it up off the turf, nearly had the runner Cabrera, who tweaked something rounding third. Cabrera would stay in the game. 1-0 Tigers
Odorizzi's biggest challenge came much later. Two outs with two walks on high pitch counts, and a single that Kiermaier did not dive for filled the bases in the sixth inning, put the bases loaded -- and expertly maintained as loaded by Kiermaier getting the throw to the infield lightning fast, holding Miguel Cabrera at third. The next pitch, a change up low, got a groundball from Nick Castellanos to escape the jam.
Joe Maddon let the pitch count rise from there, reaching 107 with two outs in the seventh inning while Kirby Yates was warming. Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler followed with fly balls to left-center when the split/change didn't dive in the zone, a double and a single. Odorizzi left after 111 pitches with a runner on second. 2-0 Tigers
Yates allowed a single to Torii Hunter and a walk to Miguel Cabrera, with both his command and control a little wily. After a talking to from Hickey with bases loaded, Yates dropped a slider in high for a strike, a change up at the bottom of the zone but called a ball, put a slider on the edge away from Victor Martinez for a whiff, hit the same spot for a fastball fouled away (missing the spot requested, an elevated heater), then tried the fastball again.
Once more, the request was fastball elevated, but Yates couldn't put it at the top of the zone, and Martinez clobbered the repeat pitch for a grand slam. While the elevated fastball is a crucial part of Odorizzi's game, it's not a style of pitching Yates is accustomed to. Combine that with his control issues pitching consecutive nights, and you wonder if the calls from rookie catcher Curt Casali might have been to blame. 6-0 Tigers
Yates responded with three angry strikes, hitting the zone with the slider and catching J.D. Martinez looking for the final out of the seventh. Too little too late. The Rays went quietly in their share of the seventh, and Cesar Ramos pitched a clean eighth and ninth.
Prior to the final inning, James Loney was able to tag a two-seam at the bottom of the zone for a single, finally breaking up the domination of Rick Porcello with none out in the eighth. Wil Myers popped out the next pitch, then Yunel Escobar grounded to the pitcher the following pitch. Porcello started the double play ball coolly, but the throw to first was off the line. The next batter grounded out regardless.
After eight bottom frames, Porcello was sitting at 93 pitches, and suddenly the Rays were on Maddux alert: a possible complete game shutout of 99 pitches or less.
Kevin Kiermaier hit the second pitch he saw to left field for a lineout. 95 pitches
Desmond Jennings hit the third pitch he saw to right field for a single. 98 pitches
Ben Zobrist took strike one and fouled the next. Maddux no more! He flew out to right field the next pitch, then Matt Joyce popped out to first base three pitches later. 104 pitches, a complete game shut out for the young Rick Porcello.
- Jake Odorizzi is now third on the total strikeout list for rays rookie pitchers. The record holder is Matt Moore at 175, just edging Scott Kazmir at 174.
- After 70 games by the wayside, Wil Myers returned to play today. A sharp groundball to third, a called third strike, first pitch pop foul. His lack of performance might have been notable, but tonight he was just another Ray.
- The booth broadcasted for The Porch in center field above the Rays Tank this evening, picture forthcoming.
- The Rays face David Price tomorrow afternoon, who may be just the pitcher to give the Rays the first nail in the coffin we call 2014. Will the king reclaim his throne?