ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi's latest stint with the Rays is likely a short one with the rookie expected to get sent back down to Triple-A Durham after Thursday's spot start.
But after another solid outing, one run over five innings in a 2-0 loss to the Angels, Odorizzi said he felt a lot different than his first three callups.
"I'm pitching with more confidence and have a better feel for my stuff," he said. "I know it's not like the first time up, when you make your first start for a new team. The nerves are taken care of now. It's a lot easier after your first time up. Now it's just strictly business."
Odorizzi, 23, acquired from Kansas City in the offseason trade involving RF Wil Myers, carried the momentum from his last start for the Rays — one run over 5⅔ innings June 18 in Boston — and said his velocity kicked up a little in his past few outings for Durham.
"I feel like I'm getting stronger right now," Odorizzi said.
Manager Joe Maddon noticed that "livelier" fastball Thursday as well as a sharp slider. Odorizzi scattered four hits and walked two, saying he "nibbled" more than he needed to with two strikes. But Odorizzi wiggled out of two jams with double plays and his defense playing well behind him.
Odorizzi finished the fifth inning at 83 pitches, and Maddon said he didn't feel any need to push him.
"He was outstanding," Maddon said. "He's got a good look."
WIL POWER: Though Myers is slumping, hitless in past 20 at-bats, he was encouraged after a career-high three walks. "It was probably my best day in a week," he said. "I felt my hands working a lot better (Thursday). Even though I did have the strikeout, I took some swings at balls, so I really could see the light at the end of the tunnel."
GETTING HOT: OF Matt Joyce is feeling good at the plate, batting .370 (20-for-54) in August with 11 of his 20 hits going for extra bases. Joyce pinch-hit in the ninth Thursday, popping out.
"When you have some things go your way and you get some hits, you're going to feel a lot more comfortable and be able to relax a little bit more," Joyce said. "I think the biggest thing I've tried to focus on was controlling the strike zone and … trying not to get away from my game."
For Joyce, that meant not forcing himself to hit to the opposite field. He's also not missing his pitch.
"When I'm not going well, I'm getting pitches in the strike zone and I'll foul it off or pop it up," Joyce said. "But when you're going well, you're getting those pitches to hit and you're hitting it hard somewhere."
Getting started: LHP David Price believes the first game of every series is important as a "tone-setter." And Price's start tonight opening a three-game set against a surging A's team that's chasing the Rays in the wild-card standings gives it even more meaning.
"If we can go and handle business and win those games, those are very big games," Price said.
ON TRACK: LHP Matt Moore (elbow soreness) allowed four runs and eight hits over four innings in a rehab start for Durham on Thursday. It was supposed to be the last step before Moore, out since July 29, returns Tuesday.
MINOR MATTERS: DH Luke Scott (back spasms) went 1-for-4 with a single, run scored and walk as the DH for Durham in the second of a three-game rehab assignment at Durham. OF Delmon Young went 2-for-6 with two singles and a run scored in his sixth game at Double-A Montgomery. Both are set to join the Rays on Sunday. … Class A Bowling Green clinched its third straight trip to the Midwest League postseason Wednesday night.
Big tab: As part of their "American Legion Week," the Rays picked up the $1,225.75 bill on Wednesday night for beer and bar sausages for American Legion Hall Post 152 in Town 'N Country.