Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Odorizzi aims to limit pitch count early

ST. PETERSBURG — Like fellow RHP Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi entered this homestand seeking his first victory of 2016. What he's not seeking is any significant alteration in his mechanics.

Odorizzi, who allowed five runs off six hits in a 37-pitch first inning in Thursday's surreal 12-8 win at Boston, said he feels good about the quality of his pitches. It's the quantity he needs to lessen, ideally starting tonight.

"I think if I can get through the first couple of innings with a lower pitch count, I think that's really just gonna catapult me throughout the rest of the season and get things going on the right track," said Odorizzi, who allowed four second-inning runs at Baltimore in a 5-3 loss April 10.

"But other than that, I've been pleased with the way everything's coming out. Not the results two of the times, but how everything feels, I'm not gonna change anything from there."

PEARCE A 'RIGHT' FIT? For now, Kevin Cash sounds as if he remains betrothed to the Steve Pearce-Logan Morrison platoon system at first base. But that's not to suggest the second-year Rays manager is eternally wedded to the idea.

With Morrison's left-handed bat mired in a horrific slump (4-for-50) to start his Rays career, Cash started Pearce — a righty — against Orioles RHP Kevin Gausman on Monday. Pearce finished 1-for-3, improving his average to .263.

Cash indicated Pearce's offense and versatility (he already has played first, second and third this season) likely will prompt him to periodically finesse the Lakeland native in against right-handers. He even mentioned that had been the idea at the season's outset.

"Not making an excuse, but the off days kind of put a wrinkle in things, and then we had the rainout (April 9 in Baltimore)," Cash said. "Pearce is a big part of our lineup, Logan Morrison is a big part of our lineup … it's on me to kind of balance that a little bit."

TAKING THE FIFTH, AND FAST: RF Steven Souza Jr. and DH Corey Dickerson, both of whom belted their fifth home runs in Sunday's 8-1 win against the Yankees, needed only 18 games to do so. It's the fastest any Rays player has hit five homers since 2009, when Evan Longoria got his fifth in Game 9 and Carlos Peña tied him in Game 10. Souza also was the first Ray to five homers last season, though he needed 31 games.

RETURN OF RICKARD: Former Rays farmhand Joey Rickard, taken by the Orioles in the 2015 Rule 5 draft, was 0-for-4 in his Tropicana Field debut Monday. Rickard, who went 3-for-5 on Wednesday and Thursday against the Blue Jays, became only the third Orioles rookie in the past 20 seasons with at least three hits in two straight games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

ODDS AND ENDS: Monday's victory was the Rays' first when scoring two or fewer runs since a 2-1 win at Oakland on Aug. 21, 2015. … Since the start of last season, 63.3 percent (19 of 30) of C Curt Casali's hits have gone for extra bases. Casali's two-out RBI double in the fifth inning scored Souza from first. … Souza is batting .321 (9-for-28) over his past six games following an 0-for-11 funk … Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will make his "Twitter Tuesday" debut today at 2:15, fielding questions from fans at @RaysBaseball.

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