The Rays incurred their damage in the second inning against one of the best pitchers in the game, Dallas Keuchel. Logan Forsythe led off the inning with a base-hit, but Joey Butler grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. After James Loney went down swinging, Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to left center — moving both runners into scoring position. Jake Elmore followed with a full count walk to load the bases, and Rene Rivera responded with a two-run single to left. The play, however, was costly as Cabrera suffered a right hamstring strain while scoring and did not return to the game (more on that below). Brandon Guyer followed with an RBI single to left to cap the rally.
Meanwhile Odorizzi, along with a little help from the ‘pen, stifled the Astros. Odorizzi posted 5-2/3 innings off scoreless ball, allowing two just hits and three walks while fanning five. Odorizzi’s toughest jam was in the fourth, when he allowed the first two batters to reach on a single and a walk. The righty came back with a strikeout of Colby Rasmus, and coaxed a popper out of Evan Gattis to right. Unfortunately he allowed a free pass to Luis Valbuena to load the bases. With the shutout in the balance, Odorizzi forced a first-pitch popper out of Hank Conger in foul territory, which Evan Longoria snared to end the rally.
With the exception of a few moments where Odorizzi looked like he was trying to be a little too fine, resulting in four free passes a high pitch count, he looked like his old self. Odorizzi’s fastball velocity was down a tick — sitting in the low-90s — although that will bump back up as he builds back his arm strength. His splange (split-change) looked great and fooled hitters all afternoon with a ton of late movement. In short, Odorizzi looks like he is ready to pick up where he left off in early June.
Steve Geltz, who now has stranded 17 of 19 inherited runners, entered the game two outs into the sixth and forced Gattis into an inning ending fielder’s choice to second.
Jake McGee took the mound for Tampa Bay in the seventh. The high-leverage lefty gave up a one-out walk to Conger, and a double to Marwin Gonzalez after striking out Chris Carter (swinging). With two one and two out, Astros’ All-Star Jose Altuve flew out to right to end the frame.
Kevin Jepsen posted another 1-2-3 eighth — his second in two days — and Rays’ All-Star closer Brad Boxberger gave up just a two-out walk to Conger in the ninth, subsequently earning his 22nd save.
While Cabrera said it felt like he was shot as he rounded third on the ill fated play, he conceded that his hamstring felt better after the game:
It’s much better right now. I thought it was really, really bad, but I feel much better.
Cabrera underwent an MRI Sunday morning, and it was determined that his right hamstring strain was severe enough to place him on the 15-day DL due. INF Tim Beckham has been recalled from the Triple-A Durham Bulls to take his place on the roster.
The New What Next
Tampa Bay will play its final game before the All-Star Break with the opportunity to sweep the top team in the AL West. Matt Moore will take the mound for the Rays (45-45), who start the day 3-1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. Moore has allowed a gaudy eight runs in nine innings in his first two outings since returning from the DL. Lance McCullers will get the start for the Houston Astros. McCullers, a Tampa native, has been exceptional in his first 10 big league starts, not allowing more than three runs in any one game. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 7/12/15 Starting Lineup
— Drew Smyly threw a 60-pitch bullpen session Saturday that, per Roger Mooney (Tampa Tribune) received glowing reviews from those who watched.
He’s not historically one of the better bullpen performers, and that was probably one of the better bullpen performances I’ve ever seen, pitching coach Jim Hickey said.
Smyly threw 30 pitches, sat down while All-Star Chris Archer threw, then threw 30 more to simulate pitching two innings.
Smyly will throw again Monday then toss live batting practice Thursday in Port Charlotte — his first live BP session since he returned to the disabled list on May 9.
Smyly is expected to return in August. Interestingly enough, the team believes the torn labrum is an old injury, and not the root of the soreness Smyly felt in his shoulder after he pitched against the Red Sox in May.