There are a couple reasons not to blink during a pitchers duel. The obvious one is that you don’t want to miss the one moment during the entire game when somebody finally scores. The other is, if you blink too long, you fall asleep and miss four or five innings, because West Coast road trips are awful.
Anyway, if you like pitching, last night’s game was one for you. Jake Odorizzi and Sean Manaea locked up in a good one, each twirling eight shutout innings.
Jake was rock solid, with a great fastball, especially up, and good change mixed in with his other breaking pitches to keep Oakland off balance. He surrendered five hits — all singles — while striking out five an walking no one. Only once did an Oakland runner advance beyond first base, and that was due to an error.
The only drama Odorizzi really faced was in his last inning. Jake Smolinski singled, but was put out on a caught stealing on a great throw from Luke Maile. It was the second baserunner Maile cut down on the night. Yonder Alonzo followed by popping to shallow center, but some miscommunication between KK and short stop Tim Beckham led to a very late lunge by Kiermaier, with the ball bouncing off his glove for an error, putting Alonso at first. Ryon Healy followed with a single to left-center, sending Alonso to third. Manager Bob Melvin then called on Danny Valencia to pinch hit. Thankfully, Odorizzi was able to pick up his fielders by getting Valencia to foul out to the catcher.
For his part, Manaea also gave up just five hits — again, all singles — while tallying seven strikeouts and walking no one. He did not allow his first hit until the fifth inning, and two of the five were of the infield variety. Though not known as a groundball pitcher, the Rays made him look like one, generating ten ground balls to just two flies.
Only twice did a Ray advance as far as second against the Oakland rookie, with the best chance coming in the eighth. After Kevin Kiermaier led off with a single to right, Maile sacrificed him to second. Logan Forsythe followed by slicing a ball toward right-center that Smolinski was able to run down. The threat ended with Brandon Guyer flying out to right.
Xavier Cedeno and Erasmo Ramirez navigated the 9th and 10th cleanly. But in the 11th, Erasmo Ramirez gave up a lead off single to Alonso, who was then sacrificed to second by Healy. The Rays caught a break when the 1-2 pitch to Marcus Semien appeared to get past Casali for a passed ball, but the play was ruled dead on a foul ball. (It was difficult to tell whether or not the ball hit the bat from the replay, but Semien didn’t put up any argument.) Semien then grounded out on the next pitch. Ramirez followed that by walking Coco Crisp, and that was it for Erasmo. In came Enny Romero to face Josh Redick.
As happens too often, Romero could not find the zone, walking Redick on five pitches. That would be it for Enny, as Cash made the call for Kevin Jepsen to face Khris Davis to try and get out of the bases loaded jam. The drama lasted all of one pitch, as Davis grounded softly to short to end the inning.
Madson, Dull, and Axford worked through the 9th and the extra frames for the A’s, scattering a hit and two walks. Were there some well struck balls? Sure, especially against Axford. But overall, whole lotta nothing.
Dylan Floro came on for the 12th, and gave up a one-out single to Jed Lowrie. Smolinski followed by dribbling one almost into rightfield that Logan Forsythe dove for and corralled. He then popped up and threw behind Lowrie at second, nearly picking him off. It was a great play by Frosty to keep the runner from getting to third with less than two outs. His hustle was rewarded when Alonso followed by grounding to the mound for a huge 1-6-3 double play.
Floro was not so lucky in the 13th, when he gave up the game’s first extra base hit, a lead off double to Healy. It wouldn’t take long to make him pay. After a Semien ground out that failed to move up the runner, Coco Crisp singled to left, scoring Healy easily.
You can blink now.