The Tampa Bay Rays lost Jake Odorizzi to the injury bug on Saturday — more specifically to left hamstring tightness — as the team fell to the Boston Red Sox, 2-1. Tampa Bay has split the first two games of a four-game set with Boston.
On the first pitch of the second inning, Odorizzi threw a breaking pitch to first baseman Mitch Moreland, then instantly grimaced on the follow through — also grabbing at the top of his left thigh area. Ron Porterfield and Rays skipper Kevin Cash quickly made their way to the mound and watched Odorizzi throw a pair of practice pitches. The look on Odorizzi’s face spoke volumes: he was in no shape to continue.
The broadcast team, DeWayne and BA, pointed out that Odorizzi grabbed the same spot where he was hit by a Jose Bautista line drive six days prior, in his last start against Toronto. He stayed in to pitch three more innings that day, and did all his normal between-starts work without worry — Jake reportedly felt fine. Yet he acknowledged the correlation between this injury and the line drive following the game:
It wasn’t an issue from when it happened until that pitch.
Following the ball-game, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day DL with what is hoped to be a minor injury; recalling Chase Whitely in the process. Whitley is expected to pitch in relief.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 16, 2017
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 16, 2017
In light of the departure, Erasmo Ramirez took the mound in relief…and was greeted rather rudely by Moreland, who hit a first-pitch solo shot to right, on a center cut four-seam fastball for a Boston lead. That, however, was the only run they would score off Ramirez.
Erasmo spent the rest of his outing working at the bottom of the zone with his fastball, while keeping Boston’s hitters off balance with his slider that drew three whiffs on six swings. Ramirez gave Tampa Bay four solid innings on 46 pitches, allowing three hits while striking out two.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay answered in the third inning against Chris Sale. Kevin Kiermaier took a walk then moved to second on a one-out single to left by Steven Souza Jr. Evan Longoria plated the Rays’ only run with a two-out single to center, ending his 1-for-22 career stretch against the left-hander. Tampa Bay eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but Sale limited damage by striking out Derek Norris to end the threat. That started a 4-1/3 inning stretch where Sale allowed just a walk while striking out eight.
After Ramirez, Tommy Hunter worked a perfect sixth inning, only to get into trouble in the seventh.
Hunter allowed singles to the righty-killer that is Mitch Moreland, as well as Xander Bogaerts to open the frame. Pablo Sandoval grounded into a 3–6 fielder’s choice, allowing Moreland to move up to third. After walking Chris Young to load the bases, Xavier Cedeno entered the game to have switch-hitting Sandy Leon hit right-handed. The irony being that Leon is by far a better right-handed hitter, with the catcher slashing .318 BA/.395 OBP/.485 SLG/.880 OPS at home against lefties from the right side.
Cedeno, who has been rather suspect of late, jammed Leon with an inside cutter and coaxed a broken-bat grounder to Daniel Robertson at second. Robertson elected to get the sure out at first, while Moreland crossed the plate for the go-ahead run. After an intentional walk of Dustin Pedroia, Cedeno got Andrew Benintendi to ground into the shift, limiting damage to a single run.
That was frustrating simply because you felt like you get the right guy in there, you make the right move, you make the right pitch, everything goes your way, but we don’t quite get the ball hit hard enough to turn a double play, Cash said in his post-game presser. No fault to anybody — X was outstanding, and Robby got the only out he could get.
Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) made mention of the game changing play:
Robertson explained why he didn’t throw to second — his positioning, where he caught the ball, the potential to hit the runner with the throw — then saying “in hindsight, maybe I should have tried to give it a shot.” Boston manager John Farrell also said he thought they would try for two.
The Rays mounted one last rally against set-up man Matt Barnes, who walked Souza and the pinch hitting Corey Dickerson with just one out. Longoria stepped to the plate with intent to put his team ahead, yet the face of the franchise grounded hard into a 5–4–3 double play, ending the inning.
Craig Kimbrel closed out the game with a sharp 1-2-3 ninth.
The New What Next
The Rays play game three of four against Boston on Sunday. Alex Cobb (1-1, 3.46 ERA, 4.72 FIP) will toe the rubber opposite lefty Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 1.50 ERA, 1.45 FIP).
Cobb has been good over his first two starts of the season. His ERA is in good order (even though his FIP isn’t), and he has limited walks, although he hasn’t rung up a ton of batters and and he has allowed homers at a high rate.
Pomeranz’ first start was encouraging, spinning six innings of one-run ball against the Orioles. The left-hander admitted to being a bit sore after the outing, although he doesn’t think it’s anything to be concerned about (as it relates to his previous forearm issues). He has been a two pitch pitcher thus far, relying upon a whiffy four seam fastball, and a hard curveball with sharp downward bite. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (1-2, BB), Brad Miller (6-13, 2B, HR, 3 RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (1-5, BB)
Rays 4/16/17 Starting Lineup
Souza Jr RF
— Jim Turvey (DRaysBay) implores you to keep a a close eye on the Rays bullpen while Odorizzi is shelved.