Sunday, July 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays hit four homers to beat Orioles, snap skid (w/ video)

ST. PETERSBURG — Scouts from a handful of teams searching for pitching help for a playoff push looked on Sunday from the seats behind home plate at Tropicana Field as Jake Odorizzi pitched against the Orioles.

Not that Odorizzi noticed or even cared.

"No," he said. "I think everybody's name is out there. I've been through it multiple times, so it doesn't really bother me any."

To prove his point, Odorizzi turned in one of his best starts of the season, allowing two runs in six innings during the Rays' 5-2 victory, which snapped an eight-game losing streak.

Odorizzi survived a rocky start — a single, double and sacrifice fly on his first five pitches of the game — to win for the first time since June 8 at Arizona and the first time at the Trop since Oct. 1.

The Rangers, who have been linked to a possible trade with the Rays for Odorizzi, had a scout at the game. So did the Pirates, Nationals and Dodgers.

Their reports will read that Odorizzi's elevated fastball was on-point, helping him escape trouble in the first and fifth innings; that he pitched to all four quadrants of the strike zone; that he was just as sharp in the sixth inning as he was in the first.

"He didn't panic," Rays manager Kevin Cash said about Odorizzi's ability to get out of trouble.

Odorizzi left runners at second and third in the first inning when he struck out Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo. He retired Manny Machado (grounder) and Davis (strikeout) in the third to strand a runner at second. He got Davis to fly out to centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier with the bases loaded to end the fifth.

"Everything felt good," Odorizzi said. "It was good to get through the sixth inning instead of stumbling in the sixth. Just felt like me again today. It's repeatable. Just go out and do it next time, too."

Odorizzi is one of several Rays of interest to contending teams. Scouts were also on hand to watch Chris Archer and Matt Moore pitch during the first two games of the series. Erasmo Ramirez has drawn interest, and the reliever enhanced his appeal by throwing two perfect innings Sunday with four strikeouts.

The pitching, unsettled in the first half of the season, settled down against the Orioles' potent offense (sixth in the majors in runs entering Sunday).

The starters were effective, and the bullpen did not allow a run during the series. A better showing by the offense and the Rays (35-56) might have stopped the losing streak before Sunday.

Odorizzi hoped to begin the second half of the season with an outing like the one he turned in Sunday. His goal is to repeat the performance this weekend when he faces the A's in Oakland, where he said he will again ignore the trade talk.

"It's familiar territory, and usually there's a lot more smoke than there is fire a lot of the times," Odorizzi said. "I'm a member of the team here. I have to keep on pitching and getting us wins. Whatever happens, happens."

     
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