Jake Odorizzi answers call for Rays on short notice

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) pitches during the MLB game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, July 12, 2014.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) pitches during the MLB game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, July 12, 2014.

ST. PETERSBURG — When RHP Jake Odorizzi heard David Price was ill, he started preparing as if he'd be moved up a day in the Rays' rotation.

So when Odorizzi took the mound Saturday in Price's place, he looked like his usual self, allowing fewer than four runs for the team-best seventh consecutive start.

"He's been pretty unflappable since he's gone on this kind of a nice roll," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's been pretty much able to take things in stride."

Thursday's day off meant Odorizzi wasn't on short rest. He allowed three runs (two earned) but had two defensive plays — a failed diving attempt by CF Kevin Kiermaier and a Sean Rodriguez error — work against him.

His big moment came in the fourth. With two on, no outs and a run in, Odorizzi struck out Colby Rasmus and Juan Francisco, then forced Steve Tolleson's grounder to prevent further damage.

"I thought I had really good stuff today," said Odorizzi, who threw 107 pitches. "Pitch count really didn't affect it."

Price is scheduled to start today, with RHP Jeremy Hellickson available on usual rest.

Bullpen bits: Grant Balfour's three-run ninth inning Friday was the latest of a recent string of bullpen problems. He became the fourth different reliever to give up at least two runs in an outing this homestand.

Maddon has questioned Balfour's decision to move away from his fastball in the past but said that wasn't his former closer's problem.

"It's a confidence issue," Maddon said. "It's a matter of being confident in your own stuff and going out there and letting it hang out, not being worried about the results."

Balfour's 6.88 walks per nine innings are ninth-worst in the majors among relievers with at least 10 innings, according to Fan Graphs. Only Miami's A.J. Ramos has more walks than Balfour (27), who had not had major problems with walks before this year.

LHP Jake McGee is expected to be brought back from the paternity list today, meaning the Rays must a corresponding roster move.

Medical matters: CF Desmond Jennings and C Ryan Hanigan were not in Saturday's lineup and available only in emergency situations.

Maddon said Jennings' left knee was swollen after he fouled a pitch off himself in Friday's game.

Hanigan was scratched from Friday's start because of soreness in his left side. Maddon said the soreness started this month in Detroit and has been off and on since. The Rays hope he's completely healthy by Friday, when the Rays return from the All-Star break.

Futures market: Rays prospects LHP Enny Romero and C Justin O'Conner are scheduled to participate in today's All-Star Futures game at 5 p.m. at Target Field (MLB Network). Romero, the Rays' first three-time participant in the event, has a 5.62 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 17 starts for Triple-A Durham.

O'Conner, the No. 31 overall pick in 2010, is hitting .260 with 32 RBIs for the Class A Stone Crabs.

River Ridge High first baseman and UCF commit Jason Heinrich will participate in today's junior home run derby before the game.

Miscellany: Seminole Tribe medicine man Bobby Henry made another appearance at the Trop and gave Maddon two tribal shirts. … SS Yunel Escobar and RH Brad Boxberger will sign autographs from 12:14-12:45. … C Jose Molina stole his second base of the year in the bottom of the fourth. Only five Rays have more stolen bases. … Saturday's game was the 1,000th of Ben Zobrist's career. … Northside Christian product Todd Redmond had a walk and a strikeout in one relief inning for Toronto.

Jake Odorizzi answers call for Rays on short notice 07/12/14 [Last modified: Saturday, July 12, 2014 9:47pm]

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