OAKLAND -- After walking the leadoff batter, Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi threw out of the stretch and stayed in the stretch all the way through a superb start on Monday night.Odorizzi opened the season's second half with his best outing of the year, going seven innings while allowing just a
OAKLAND -- After walking the leadoff batter, Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi threw out of the stretch and stayed in the stretch all the way through a superb start on Monday night.
Odorizzi opened the season's second half with his best outing of the year, going seven innings while allowing just a solo homer to A's slugger Khris Davis in the fourth inning. Along with the lone hit, he walked two and struck out five on 103 pitches as the Rays beat the A's, 3-2, at the Coliseum.
"I switched to the stretch after the first inning. I felt comfortable. I don't know why, but I'm going to continue doing it," Odorizzi said. "Once I walked [A's leadoff hitter Matt] Joyce, I felt better [in the stretch]. I felt everything was a little more crisp and I felt I could get the ball down better."
A's manager Bob Melvin added, "We know he throws a lot of splits and he throws a lot of off-count splits. [He] threw some sliders and cutters today and we just couldn't get a read on him. We were having a tough time getting a good swing, let alone hitting the ball hard. Gotta give him some credit tonight, he kept us off balance."
After Davis' homer with one out in the fourth, Odorizzi retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced, with only one batter reaching on an error. He said he felt like he was returning to his old self.
"It's just nice to get back to what I feel I'm capable of doing," Odorizzi said. "It was a frustrating first half, that's for sure, and that kind of helps ease those troubles when you come out and just do what I'm used to doing.
"Granted, the one hit, I'm not going to do that every time, let's be honest, but it was just good to execute pitches. I was on top of balls, offspeed was better, fastball location was much better and I wasn't constantly throwing balls in the top of the zone. Just a little adjustment I made really helped out. It was just nice to get back to being me again."
Prior to Monday, Odorizzi had given up three runs or more in every start since June and had only completed seven innings twice this season. The inconsistency is what made this excellent effort that much sweeter for Rays manager Kevin Cash.
"I think it helps a lot," Cash said. "He was visibly excited after that outing. He puts a lot on himself to go out there and provide his work, just like every one of our starters, and he feels lately like he hasn't been doing his part. I know today felt really good for him."
"It's gratifying to go out there and do what I wanted to do," Odorizzi said. "Hopefully it just kind of snowballs from here. But it's definitely a good start to the second half."
Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99.