Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Odorizzi pitches scoreless ball again as Rays rout Royals

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi has had his own frustrations this season, low run support leading to a majors-most 12 no-decisions. The Rays have had plenty overall when facing the Royals, losing 12 of their previous 13 and 25 of 31.

But they all were feeling better after Wednesday's 12-0 victory.

"It felt really good," OF Steven Souza Jr. said. "That's a team that's just kind of picked at us."

Odorizzi was dazzling against his (briefly) former mates, allowing only two hits in posting six zeroes and extending his scoreless streak to 20⅔ innings. The team record is 27⅓, by LHP J.P. Howell in 2012; 24⅔ for a starter, RHP Alex Cobb in 2014.

Odorizzi has made a team record-tying three straight scoreless starts and is 3-0, 0.67 in four since the All-Star break, 6-5, 3.70 overall. He did lose his streak of walk-free innings at 18⅔.

"Just getting ahead is a little bit better, fastball's had some good life to it, my split's been tremendously better than it was at the beginning of the year," Odorizzi said. "So just a culmination of all those couple things; I wouldn't attribute it to one thing. At the same time, I don't really care. I want it to keep going."

The Rays (43-63) started well, scoring four in the opening frame with their first "inning cycle" — single, double, triple, homer — since Aug. 3, 2011. Souza had the big blow with a three-run homer, snapping his career-worst 109 at-bat drought. CF Kevin Kiermaier added a three-run shot in the sixth, SS Brad Miller a solo for his 18th.

The 12 runs were one shy of the Rays' season high, the 12-run margin their largest since April 2014. The defense was good, too, with 1B Tim Beckham and LF Nick Franklin making impressive catches.

SHAFFER TIME: Versatile INF/OF Taylor Motter's return to the majors lasted one day. The team sent him down and summoned INF/OF Richie Shaffer despite his poor season at Triple-A Durham, hitting .227 with only eight homers and 41 RBIs, including 0-for-his-last-14.

"He had a big year in the minor leagues last year, this year maybe got off to a little bit of a slow start," manager Kevin Cash said. "He's come on here as of late. … He'll play some first, come off the bench a little bit for us."

Cash said Shaffer, who was also called up last Aug. 3, "probably fits the roster a little bit better right now," though Motter can play anywhere. Shaffer, who said his Durham season was better than it looked, might only be around until newly acquired SS Matt Duffy comes off the disabled list next weekend and Miller shifts to first.

TONIGHT IN PORT CHARLOTTE: Three Rays big-leaguers are set to make rehab appearances for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs tonight. Cobb is slated to throw three innings in his fourth start, Duffy (Achilles strain) will play shortstop and OF Mikie Mahtook (left hand fracture), who went 1-for-3 Wednesday playing rightfield, will DH.

MINOR MATTERS: C Justin O'Conner, sidelined all season with a back strain, has returned to action with the Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte, targeted to get back to Double-A Montgomery. … Of the five prospects acquired in trade Monday, C Jonah Heim and OF Nathan Lukes will join the Stone Crabs, SS Lucius Fox short-season Hudson Valley, RHP Jhonleider Salinas the GCL team. RHP Michael Santos, who is on the DL, will rehab in Port Charlotte. … 3B Josh Lowe, the top 2016 draft pick, was promoted to rookie-level Princeton after hitting .258-2-15 with the GCL Rays. C Chris Betts, the 2015 second-round pick who needed Tommy John elbow surgery, was promoted to Hudson Valley after hitting .214-0-6.

MISCELLANY: After exerting himself throwing 106 pitches, Odorizzi had to have blood drawn as a random selection for MLB's HGH testing program. … Fox Sports Sun is not televising today's game, but MLB Network will pick up the Royals broadcast. … It could be a busy day in the outfield seats as Royals starter Ian Kennedy has allowed a majors-most 26 homers, Rays starter Drew Smyly 22. … LHP Matt Moore, traded for Duffy, makes his first start for the Giants today.

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