ST. PETERSBURG — It wasn't a horrible pitch that ended Jake Odorizzi's chance at a no-hitter and a shutout and, ultimately, a victory Sunday against the Yankees.
It was a fastball away, which is what catcher Curt Casali wanted.
"From my vantage point, it seemed like an okay pitch," Casali said.
But Starlin Castro said he was looking for a pitch to drive and felt he could drive that fastball, which he did. Castro lined the ball over the left-centerfield wall with a runner on in the seventh inning for the only hit and the only runs the Yankees needed for a 2-1 win.
"That was not fun," Casali said. "It wasn't fun. I hated for (Odorizzi), just because he pitched his tail off."
It was the seventh loss in nine games for the Rays (22-26), who went 1-4 on the homestand and are last in the AL East.
For much of the afternoon, it looked as if the 19,748 at Tropicana Field would witness the first perfect game in team history. Then, after shortstop Brad Miller's error with one out in the sixth, the second no-hitter in franchise history.
But after Castro followed a walk to Brett Gardner with his seventh home run of the season, the crowd saw another game in which the Rays came up short with runners in scoring position (1-for-6) and wasted a sterling performance by one of their starting pitchers.
"That's a difficult loss," manager Kevin Cash said.
Odorizzi retired the first 16 he faced, the third-longest run at perfection by a Rays pitcher. Chris Archer retired 19 straight last season against Detroit and Matt Garza 18 in 2009 against Boston.
Odorizzi shrugged off Miller's error — Miller bobbled Dustin Ackley's grounder — and got the next batter, Ronald Torreyes, to hit into a double play. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to Miller to start the seventh. Then came the walk and the home run.
"I didn't even watch," Odorizzi said. "I just kind of knew. It came off (the bat) very hot. Didn't even look. Couldn't tell you where it went out or anything like that. Just knew that we were losing."
Odorizzi dazzled with his fastball that touched the mid 90s and got bad swings on his curveball and changeup. New York manager Joe Girardi called the win "really fortunate. … His fastball command was really good, and his split was really good."
"It was a combination of a good pitcher having all of his stuff going," Cash said. "We saw it kind of before our eyes. Something special was getting closer and closer."
Casali said he was aware Odorizzi was flirting with history. Odorizzi said he was trying to hold on to the 1-0 lead, courtesy of Evan Longoria's third-inning RBI single.
"We were only up by one run, so that's kind of the worst part of this whole thing, regardless of the peripherals," Odorizzi said. "The thing that makes me the most mad is we lost the game. One swing changes the whole outcome. It's solely upon me."