Jake Odorizzi was under the spotlight Monday afternoon in Toronto, making his big league debut in 2013 and becoming the first player in the James Shields blockbuster to make a major league appearance for the Rays. He was limited to just five innings and 92 pitches, but looked encouraging in his first outing.
Odorizzi got off on the wrong foot, however, as the Blue Jays' bats put up two runs in the first inning.
R.A. Dickey, who's having a slow start to the season like his fellow Cy Young award-winner David Price, was on the hill for Toronto. A Sam Fuld RBI groundout, scoring Evan Longoria who reached on a leadoff single, made it a 2-1 ballgame in the second.
The scoring continued in the bottom half of the inning, unfortunately, as the Rays' tough luck with missed calls this season cost them yet another run. With one out and the bases empty, catcher Henry Blanco laced a base hit that rolled to the left field wall. Sam Fuld played the ball perfectly and the throw to second beat Blanco by a mile.
As you can see from the picture below, Ben Zobrist clearly got the tag down in time and second base umpire CB Bucknor simply blew an easy call despite being the right position.
This would cost both the Rays and Odorizzi a run as Melky Cabrera would drive in a Blanco later in the inning with a two-out double.
But Tampa's streaking bats continued to show resilience. In the third, Longoria delivered with a two-run double to opposite field, tying the game at 3-3. He extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Meanwhile Odorizzi was settling in, not allowing a single hit from the third to fifth inning. He finished the day with a line of 5 hits on 3 runs, 1 walk, and an impressive 6 strikeouts.
As I said before, Odorizzi was limited to just 92 pitches, and I would of liked to see him go a bit deeper into this game as he's thrown 95+ pitches a few times this season with Durham. With a struggling bullpen, it's important that the starters provide innings, and with Odorizzi on a roll I was a bit surprised that he wasn't given a chance to start the sixth inning, assuming that Joe Maddon was behind the decision.
Back to the game, the Jays would break through in the seventh against the Rays' bullpen. Josh Lueke replaced Jake McGee after his quick sixth, and simply wasn't able to control his pitches today. He walked three batters to load the bases, and then gave up a bases-clearing double to Edwin Encarnacion with two outs. The three runs were the first allowed by Lueke this season.
Encarnacion ripped a liner right off the base off the wall, which took a hard bounce to Sam Fuld. Fuld somehow whiffed at the carom, costing the Rays an additional run or maybe even two. The miscue would end up hurting the Rays
In the eighth, Kyle Farnsworth entered the game and wasn't able to keep Toronto's lead at three. Munenori Kawasaki smacked a triple, making it a 7-3 ballgame.
In the ninth, the Rays attempted to pull off another epic comeback for the second straight game. They definitely gave the Jays a scare as they roughed up closer Casey Janssen.
Yunel Escobar's 2-run homer cut the deficit to two with the Rays down to their final strike. Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce then both reached base, bringing up the go-ahead run to the plate, Ben Zobrist. With Longoria on deck, Zobrist went down on three pitches to finally bring the game to an end.
The Rays are now 23-21 on the season. They'll attempt to keep extend their steak of not losing a series against the Blue Jays to 16 games. Their current streak (15) is the longest (active) against any team in the MLB by any team.
Alex Cobb (4-2, 2.89 ERA) will square off against right-hander Ramon Ortiz (1-1, 2.35 ERA); first pitch tomorrow night at 7:07 ET.