ST. PETERSBURG — Normally, having five batters hit by pitches and one team's star player knocked out — and possibly concussed — by a player on the other team in a Rays-Red Sox game would more than fill the headlines and the highlights.
But not this time, not with the teams mired at the bottom of the division with little to play for and most of the extracurricular action considered inadvertent.
And not with Rays starter Jake Odorizzi grabbing the spotlight.
Odorizzi bounced back from a career-worst outing with another gem Saturday, working the first seven innings of a combined one-hit 7-0 win that gave the Rays their team-record and major-league most-matching 18th shutout of the season.
"Just simply better than last time, that's an adequate assumption, back to what I was doing before the last outing," Odorizzi said. "It's good to be back to that form."
On Monday in Baltimore, Odorizzi allowed eight runs on 11 hits, including a pair of back-to-back homers, and lasted only four innings. On Saturday, he was sharp from the start, hitting Yeonis Cespedes in the second and allowing a single to Will Middlebrooks and going into the seventh with a chance for a complete game until three consecutive walks ran his pitch count to 103. Jeff Beliveau and Kirby Yates finished as the Rays logged their third one-hitter, matching the MLB most.
Part of Odorizzi's turnaround was pitching differently, making more use of his slider and being intentionally unpredictable in his pitch selection. The other was in his mental game, as for the second time this month he followed a rough outing with a stellar one, improving what was a 2-7 record to 10-11.
"It speaks to him, besides his physical skills, the mental skills are really good where he can take something that was not a good outing and file it, knowing it was just one time out and doesn't nick or impact his confidence," manager Joe Maddon said.
"When you talk to him, it's not like bravado. After something bad happens, he holds the conversation well. He's not just giving you lip service, he's not trying to convince himself. He's solid and straightforward, and I think that's a big part of why he's able to do a couple of bad outings and really bounce well."
The Rays improved to 66-70 and stayed on the fringe of the race for the second AL wild card, taking advantage of poor Boston pitching — besides the four hit batters — and sloppy fielding.
Of their seven runs, only one scored on a hit, James Loney doubling in Evan Longoria, who was the first of their hit batters. Otherwise they scored two on sac flies, two on bases-loaded groundouts and two when Boston catcher David Ross threw very wildly after fielding a Brandon Guyer bunt.
"We have been very benevolent," Maddon said. "Tonight we took advantage."
As for the sideshow, Boston's Dustin Pedroia was knocked out of the game in the second when Logan Forsythe slid in hard headfirst and in trying to avoid a tag hit his arm on the side of Pedroia's head. Forsythe said it was "absolutely not" intentional; Boston manager John Farrell noted it was "clear" Forsythe struck him with his elbow.
And Maddon said that since three of his batters were hit by breaking balls, "I wasn't concerned about any of that."
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.