The Dog Days of Summer are officially upon us now. The pomp and circumstance of the All Star Game is behind us, as the Rays started the second half of the season on Friday night, on the road in Toronto. Jake Odorizzi, making his second start since coming off the DL just before the break, led Tampa Bay into the Rogers Centre against a Blue Jays team sporting the most runs per game in the major leagues.
The Struggles of Jake Odorizzi
Odorizzi certainly didn't look like himself on the hill in this game, laboring through the first three innings, needing more than 50 pitches to do so. He allowed four free passes through the first third of the game and really struggled to find his location. He even got called on a first inning balk with Jose Reyes on first. He found himself in far too many deep counts Friday night. He seemed timid on the mound, lacking the confidence we're used to seeing from him.
For all of those struggles though, Odorizzi didn't give up his first walk until Justin Smoak hit a one-out double in the fourth inning. That said, the fourth inning saw Odorizzi give the lead back, as Smoak went to third on a Russell Martin single and scored on Chris Collabello sac fly.
And then it all came crashing down.
In the fifth, after Devon Travis singled, Josh Donaldson looked like he was back in the Home Run Derby all over again, sending an Odorizzi offering into the left field seats and, just like that, the Rays fell behind 3-1.
But wait, there was more.
Immediately following the Donaldson round-tripper, consecutive batters looked like this:
- Jose Bautista - Walk
- Encarnacion - Double
- Smoak - 3-run Home Run
You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?
Kevin Cash and his pitching management.
I know, I've talked about this before. In fact, I remember my last post saying Cash continues to find new ways to baffle me. Well he didn't disappoint on Friday.
Riddle me this, Batman: If you're opposed to letting a pitcher who is pitching effectively see a lineup a third time, why would you let a pitcher who is obviously struggling stay in the game to get beat up?
I just don't understand.
Odorizzi was pulled after just 79 pitches in his last start, in which he pitched well and was going strong through the fifth inning. He hadn't given up a run and struck out five. In contrast, Odorizzi was allowed to stay in Friday night, for a third time through the most effective offense in baseball, struggling through the same five innings, throwing 94 pitches.
Do you want to protect your pitchers and go to the bullpen early to preserve your starter and your ability to stay in a game, or do you want to get mileage out of a pitcher?
This was a night to give Jake an early hook. It was apparent after the third inning he was struggling. And yet, the bullpen phone never rang.
If Nathan Karns or Chris Archer are throwing a one-hitter through five, it seems like the bullpen can't get up fast enough; but if a starter has an off night, the bullpen is stuck twiddling their thumbs.
Cash's pitching management is mind-boggling at its best, and that's what really grinds my gears.
The Rest of the Game
Grady Sizemore kicked things off offensively for the Rays, smashing a two-out, two-strike hanger to deep right field and into the people in the third inning. The pitch before it was almost identical, and Sizemore fouled it off. Blue Jays' starter Drew Hutchison thought he could fool the Rays' right fielder by doubling up on it, but Sizemore timed it perfectly, giving the Rays a 1-0 lead.
The Rays scored their second run after Evan Longoria hit a long shot to the deepest part of the park. It wasn't enough to get out, but a single by Logan Forsythe scored Longo from second.
Kevin Kiermaier didn't disappoint in centerfield, robbing what looked like a potential home run off the bat of Donaldson with a huge leaping catch at the wall. After watching the play about a half-dozen times, it looked like the ball would have hit off the top of the wall, but still, that becomes a triple if not for Kiermaier's highlight reel work in center.
The two team's bullpens traded in the seventh and eighth, but Brandon Gomes wanted to make sure things stayed interesting, giving up to very deep outs to Ezequiel Carrera and Kevin Pillar in the bottom of the eighth.
Roberto Osuna, the Blue Jays closer who has pitched lights out for the most part this season, took over for Toronto in the bottom of ninth. He closed the game up lock, stock and barrel, working a perfect inning to secure the victory for the Jays.
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