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McCann continues to be thorn in Odorizzi's side

NEW YORK -- Heading into Friday night's Rays-Yankees opener, Jake Odorizzi's struggles against Brian McCann were well documented.

Based on what transpired in the Rays' 5-2 loss at Yankee Stadium, little has changed other than the collateral damage caused by McCann.

The Yankees' catcher continued to be a stone in Odorizzi's shoe. In addition to hitting a home run off the right-hander, McCann also drew leadoff walks that set the table for a pair of two-run homers. McCann went 1-for-1 with two walks and three runs to improve to 11-for-17 (.647) with three home runs and 10 RBIs against Odorizzi.

When asked about his ongoing battle against McCann, Odorizzi told reporters: "I'm just not going to talk about it any more. So no further questions on that."

Making matters more frustrating for Odorizzi was the fact he allowed just three hits and five baserunners overall in 6 2/3 innings. Yet he took his eighth loss of the season.

"Three hits, five runners, and they all scored," Odorizzi said. "That was the storyline. Just an odd night, but we'll move on."

Video: [email protected]: McCann connects for long solo home run

Odorizzi first faced McCann in the second, dancing on the edge of the volcano until he walked him on six pitches. McCann did not swing at any of the offerings. The collateral damage came on the next pitch when Alex Rodriguez homered on an 83-mph cutter into the left-field stands.

McCann's next at-bat came in the fourth, and once again the count went full. This time he turned on a 93-mph fastball that he deposited into the right-field stands for his 24th homer of the season and a 3-0 Yankees lead.

Odorizzi appeared to again pitch carefully to McCann in the seventh, and he drew a leadoff walk without swinging. After Rodriguez struck out, Greg Bird provided the collateral damage with a two-run homer to right off Odorizzi that gave the Yankees a 5-1 lead.

"Overall, I thought I had really good stuff," Odorizzi said. "The first two [home runs] were good pitches. The McCann one was down and away. Potentially off the plate. The A-Rod one was a first-pitch slider away and he was out front of it and just yanked it. The last one was a bad split that stayed middle and just didn't drop. So that was the most frustrating one, especially after the strikeout of A-Rod."

Rays manager Kevin Cash allowed that while Odorizzi pitched well, walking the leadoff batter of any inning is never a good thing.

"The cardinal rule of thumb is not to walk the leadoff guy of an inning," Cash said. "So whether it's McCann or anyone else -- ideally, you don't want to walk those guys. For some reason, they always seem to come around and score. But I don't think it's necessarily because it's McCann."

Cash was asked if thought McCann's success had invaded Odorizzi's head.

"I think if you look over division players, pitchers and hitters, you're going to see a lot of times where you see a long history there," Cash said. "And hopefully in all likelihood, Odo and McCann will have a history. Right now, he's got the upper hand. But that can flip-flop really quick."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted: "Obviously, [McCann] sees the ball well off of him. And probably the most impressive hit off him is the triple [earlier this season]."

Of McCann's 11 hits against Odorizzi, he has three doubles and a triple to complement his three round-trippers. According to Elias, McCann's 1.471 slugging percentage against Odorizzi is the highest of any current American League hitter against an AL pitcher (minimum of 15 at-bats).

McCann downplayed his success against the Rays' right-hander.

"It's just important to win baseball games from here on out," McCann said. "It doesn't matter if it's at home or on the road, we just have to continue to play good baseball and get as many wins as we can."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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