Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Odorizzi, Rays defeat Rangers (w/video)

ARLINGTON, Texas — RHP Jake Odorizzi put the strong finish he wanted on his "okay" season, working six solid innings in the Rays' 4-1 win Saturday over the Rangers.

Odorizzi struggled early this season like the Rays' other top starters, but he made marked improvement, going 7-1, 2.71 after the All-Star break, increasing his value as he heads to arbitration for the first time, as well as on the trade market. He finished as the staff's leading winner at 10-6, 3.69.

"I feel confident going into the offseason with the second half I put together, and this was kind of putting a wrap on the season,'' Odorizzi said. "Now I just want to one-up this season next year.''

The Rays (67-94) got all their runs in the third, as 3B Evan Longoria picked up his 98th RBI on a groundout and LF Corey Dickerson continued his sizzling September with a three-run homer, his career-high-matching 24th, on his son Davis' second birthday. "That was pretty awesome,'' Dickerson said (box score, 5C).

KK SORE, UPSET: CF Kevin Kiermaier had to leave the game in the sixth inning and likely won't play today as a result of a bruised left calf after being hit by a Colby Lewis pitch in the first. What made it sting worse is Kiermaier said Lewis did it on purpose after he tried to bunt on the first pitch.

"It's clear that it was on purpose and he had a problem with me bunting,'' Kiermaier said. "I wasn't happy about it by any means.''

FOR STARTERS: RHP Chase Whitley, who like RHP Alex Cobb returned from May 2015 Tommy John surgery, makes his first start today after four relief appearances. His previous start in the majors was May 14, 2015, for the Yankees.

"I'm very, very honored to be able to go out there," Whitley said. "It's been a long road, so I'm just thankful for it."

IRON EVAN: Longoria is slated to play his 160th game today, the fourth straight season he has done so. Only two players in major-league history have done so while playing a majority of their games at third, Ron Santo and Brooks Robinson.

MISCELLANY: Today's results will determine the Rays' 2017 draft position; somewhere between second and sixth. … Rays hitters struck out four times, giving them an AL-most 1,474 strikeouts, second most in league history behind the 2013 Astros' MLB-record 1,535. … Ex-Ray Matt Moore starts for the Giants today as they try to win the second NL wild card.

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