Saturday marked the Twins' ninth game in as many days, and the team entered the afternoon with a depleted bullpen. Minnesota needed five relief pitchers during Friday's 15-9 loss to the Reds and made a series of roster moves over the previous week to get some fresh arms in its bullpen.
"We've been looking for good starts and for guys to get us deeper," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "[Odorizzi] did a nice job in New York, and to get one today, his pitch count was down. He started searching a little bit there a couple innings, but he kept finding ways to get out of it. That was a huge part of it."
Odorizzi needed just 36 pitches to get through the first four innings and had no problem pitching to contact. After striking out Jesse Winker and Jose Peraza to start off the game, Odorizzi's only other punchout came at the expense of Scott Schebler in the fifth.
But Odorizzi threw 60 strikes over 91 pitches and limited hard contact. According to Statcast™, the Reds only hit six balls off of Odorizzi that had an exit velocity of 100 mph or greater. One of those hard-hit drives accounted for the lone run Odorizzi surrendered -- a homer by Schebler in the second inning that went a projected 418 feet. Schebler's homer came on the only curveball Odorizzi threw during the game.
"It was by design," Odorizzi said. "I hadn't thrown one in the first 20 pitches of the game, and then I throw one and it gets hit into the seats. So why play around with that? I felt like I had a good fastball today and I was moving the ball around pretty good. So, no reason to be stubborn or prove that I can throw it again. Go with what's working."
Adam Duvall led off the top of the seventh inning with a ground-rule double over the center-field wall to end Odorizzi's day. Reliever Zach Duke surrendered a sharp single to Devin Mesoraco to put runners on the corners, but retired Billy Hamilton, Winker and Peraza in order to end the inning.
Fernando Rodney came on to close out the game in the ninth and pick up his third save of the season. After walking two of the first three batters he faced, Rodney induced a pair of popouts -- the first on a nice running grab by second baseman Brian Dozier in short center field -- to end the game.
The Minnesota offense gave Odorizzi the little bit of support he needed when it struck for two runs in the fourth inning. Eddie Rosario led off the inning with a single, and Eduardo Escobar followed with a run-scoring double that turned into three bases when Winker couldn't field the ball cleanly in right field.
Robbie Grossman's sacrifice fly two batters later plated Escobar and gave the Twins the lead for good. In the fifth inning, Mitch Garver padded the advantage with a homer to left field.
"He was pitching away my first at-bat," Garver said. "Everything was off the plate away or right on the corner. The first at-bat I started leaning that way and I looked to drive it the other way. They saw I could do that and so they went away my first pitch of my second at-bat and I had a feeling he was coming in to get me off the plate a little bit. But it was just a pitch up and a little in."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Odorizzi escapes: In the top of the fifth, Odorizzi found himself in a jam after allowing a one-out double to Mesoraco and later intentionally walking Winker to load the bases. With Joey Votto standing in the on-deck circle, Odorizzi staged a six-pitch battle with Peraza before getting the Reds' shortstop to pop out and end the inning.
UP NEXT The Twins will send Jose Berrios to the hill to close out their three-game set with the Reds on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Berrios, who hasn't faced any active Reds hitters, is 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA. Right-hander Tyler Mahle will start for Cincinnati.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.