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Rays 4, Cubs 0: Odorizzi, Escobar Fuel Rays Past Cubs

Jake Odorizzi and Yunel Escobar provide the knockout blows to the Cubbies.

Jonathan Daniel

Jake Odorizzi rebounded nicely from his last outing, a disaster in which he allowed five runs in three innings, to blank the Cubs and help the Rays to their third straight victory.

The young right-hander lasted six innings, allowing just three hits while striking out nine and walking none. His split-finger, dubbed "Thing 2", was working to perfection today. He threw it 28 times, recording 20 strikes, six of them of the swinging variety. His traditional four-seam fastball was also working well against the swing happy Cubs, throwing it 80 percent of the time for strikes and punching out six hitters. He only allowed one Cub to reach second base, and that came with two outs in the sixth inning.

Even with last week's rough outing his ERA is under 3.00 over his last eleven starts, which is exactly what the Rays need to see from him going forward now that David Price is gone.

The offense jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning thanks to a ground-rule double by the red hot Ben Zobrist, a double by Evan Longoria, and a single from Yunel Escobar. It was Escobar who would come through again, this time in the sixth inning. After loading the bases with one out against former Ray Edwin Jackson, Escobar shot a ball up the middle bringing in two runs. While he doesn't have any power to speak of, Escobar has hit above .300 since returning from the disabled list.

As I mentioned, Zobrist has been red hot. Today's 2-4, one walk performance boosted his season line to .289/.369/.435. Over the past 14 days he's hitting over .400. Over the past 30 he's hitting .341/.417/.524. Not bad for someone who dealt with an injury and a little slump early in the season.

Kirby Yates pitched the seventh and eighth innings, which gave a nice boost to the bullpen. Yates has been a nice addition in his limited Major League time. He's sporting a 2.31 ERA, 2.88 FIP and a 10.80 K/9 in 23.1 innings of work.

The bullpen as a whole has been tremendous over the past month. They sport the fourth best ERA (1.98) in baseball over that time and lead with 11.59 K/9. What seemed to be a liability early in the season has turned into a real strength as the team has gotten on a roll.