After finding the winning side of the ledger for the first time in over a week on Friday night against the Houston Astros, the Rays looked to do so again, this time against arguably the best pitcher in the American League in 2015: Dallas Keuchel. Tampa Bay got another fresh face back off of the DL, with Jake Odorizzi making his return from an oblique strain Saturday afternoon.
The Rays offense came to play early in the game, with Keuchel looking decidedly less sharp in the second inning than the pitcher we've seen own highlight reels all season long. Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs in the second and Rene Rivera singled to right to bring in two runs. Unfortunately, the injury bug giveth and the injury bug taketh away. Coming down the third base line, Asdrubal Cabrera pulled up hard, immediately grabbing at his hamstring. He managed to cross home plate, but collapsed at the on deck circle. He quickly went to the clubhouse along with the training staff. The Rays managed to get one more run off of another two-out single by Brandon Guyer, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead before John Jaso struck out to end the inning.
The loss of Cabrera necessitated a major shuffle on the Rays' defensive alignment. Jake Elmore moved from left to short, Joey Butler moved from right to left, Guyer moved from center to right, and Kevin Kiermaier, who was supposed to get a day off against the tough left-hander Keuchel, was inserted at short. (Stops . . . Takes breath . . .)
The Astros mounted a few threats, including a bases loaded situation in the fourth that Jake Odorizzi was able to work out of, and a two-out, two in scoring position scenario in the seventh that Jake McGee got the dangerous Jose Altuve to fly out to end.
Kevin Jepsen worked a perfect top of the eighth, coming on to replace McGee and Brad Boxberger worked the ninth to earn the save and complete the combined effort shutout.
The Return of Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi looked like his old self in his first game back from the DL. His fastball velocity was back around where it was before he left, in the low to mid-90s. His changeup looked great, fooling hitters all afternoon with its late movement and he set it up well off of his fastball.
His night ended after 5.2 innings and 89 pitches. Over that span, he only allowed two hits, but did walk three Astros' batters while racking up five strikeouts. It was a much needed strong outing and it looks like Odorizzi is ready to pick up where he left off in early June.
My Two Cents:
- Probably the coolest thing I saw all day: The Rays installed a memorial seat for POWs & MIA men and women who have served our country. The seat remains empty in awaiting their return home. An awesome gesture by a class-act team, honoring those who deserve it most.
- Hat tip to Guyer, making a great sliding catch in the top of the seventh to rob Luis Valbuena of a base hit.
- Carlos Correa is going to win AL ROY, no doubt in my mind. Reminds me of this guy who played for the Yankees for a while. . .
- Sure could get used to Rivera getting a base hit or two every other game. A catcher batting over .200 in a Rays' uniform would be a nice change.
- Longoria plays a good second base.