SEATTLE -- Even at 31 years old, Astros pitcher Jake Odorizzi understands the importance of making adjustments. And that’s even more important during Odorizzi’s uneven 2021 season in which he’s put himself in a perilous position when it comes to his place in Houston's starting rotation.
Facing the Mariners for the fourth time this season, Odorizzi turned in one of his best outings of the year in a 1-0 loss Wednesday afternoon at T-Mobile Park. He allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out seven batters in five-plus innings, during which he threw 87 pitches (55 strikes).
“I worked on some stuff in between outings,” Odorizzi said. “It was pretty solid. Fastball velocity was better, curveball was much better. It was lining up much better. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the pitch results from today. It was pretty consistent. Location-wise, pretty consistent as well, too. Sucks to lose a 1-0 game.”
The Astros were shut out in consecutive games for the second time this season. The Mariners got five scoreless innings from starting pitcher Logan Gilbert and a sixth-inning sac fly from Abraham Toro, who hit an eighth-inning grand slam Tuesday to bust another scoreless tie.
“It stinks to happen back-to-back days, especially against an in-division rival we’ve seen quite a bit,” Odorizzi said. “We just couldn’t push [runs] across. That’s the matter of fact of it. I have a lot of confidence in this team, have a lot of confidence in this pitching staff. These two losses suck, and I have the utmost confidence in our guys to rebound from this and have a good series in San Diego.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker said it was the best game Odorizzi has thrown in a while.
“I think he had a one-hitter going into that [sixth] inning, and he was throwing the ball excellent -- better splitter today, better slider, well-located fastball,” the skipper said. “It was very encouraging.”
The adjustments Odorizzi made stemmed from lowering his hand position out of the stretch and out of the windup, while slowing down his tempo a bit. The goal was to have a better direction to the plate.
“Those were pretty beneficial today,” he said. “You can kind of look at stuff throughout the day and everything was pretty solid. Velocity was back to where it was normally supposed to be, my curveball velocity was much higher, my split had better movement to it. Pitch shape, in general, was much more consistent than any outing this year with what we had today. There wasn’t too much missed locations.”
The average velocity on Odorizzi’s split-finger fastball was 85.6 mph, which was up 1 mph from his season average. His curveball averaged 75.4 mph, which was up 2.4 mph from his season average.
“I’ve been doing this pretty long now,” Odorizzi said. “We can all spin the ball, we can all do this and that, and we can all pick up things more easily as we go on. Truth be told, sometimes it’s a nice adjustment. We get into a habit as pitchers, you play catch, you throw the ball the same way over and over and over again and you don’t really know when you’re slightly out of whack. I didn’t really like my shoulder positioning. I tried to be more relaxed. So lowering my hands, relaxing my shoulders created a better angle and results-wise, it was better today.”