Odorizzi, Bulls shut down Columbus
Jake Odorizzi’s time with the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this month is paying off for the Durham Bulls as June comes to a close.
Odorizzi turned in his second consecutive strong start since being sent back to Triple-A, allowing five hits and striking out seven Saturday as the Bulls topped Columbus 3-1 before a crowd of 9,684 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Odorizzi, who improved to 6-1 with Durham, has made four appearances and three starts with Tampa Bay this season. His last start for the Rays came on June 18 at Boston’s Fenway Park, when he allowed five hits but just one run over 5 2/3 innings against the Red Sox.
Since then, including Saturday night, he’s pitched 14 1/3 Triple-A innings over two starts for the Bulls, allowing seven hits and one run while striking out 13 and walking two.
“He’s throwing strikes with all his pitches and that makes a big difference,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He’s doing what he needs to do. That’s what we expect from guys. If you want to pitch in the big leagues, you have to pitch like that and he’s doing that.”
Odorizzi said his outing at Boston boosted his confidence because he successfully worked out of jams to keep the Red Sox from scoring more than the one run.
“It’s a confidence booster,” Odorizzi said. “The start in Fenway did a lot for me. Probably my best start in the big leagues so far. I knew it was going to be up and down (from Durham to Tampa) so I just wanted to do my best. I was able to have a good outing and it has translated to down here.”
On Saturday night, the right-hander faced the minimum of nine Columbus batters over the first three innings while allowing only a single. He was touched for hits in his final four innings of work, but the Clippers weren’t able to get two hits in the same inning until the seventh when they scored their only run.
Once again, Odorizzi kept his cool and made pitches necessary to shut down potential rallies.
“I’m just trying to focus on making a pitch when it counts and getting ahead early,” Odorozzi said.
Despite his 6.10 ERA entering Saturday’s game, Columbus starting pitcher Paolo Espino kept up with Odorizzi over the first three innings. Espino retired the first 11 Durham batters he faced before the Bulls finally solved him with a two-out rally in the fourth inning.
Vince Belnome collected Durham’s first hit on hard-hit grounder past third base. Shelley Duncan lined a double to left field that put runners at second and third.
Leslie Anderson followed with a line-drive single to centerfield. Belnome and Duncan scored for a 2-0 Durham lead before Anderson was caught in a rundown and tagged out between first and second.
The Bulls extended their lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning when Brandon Guyer hit a lead-off single, stole second and scored on a Jesus Flores single to left field.
Columbus finally solved Odorizzi in the seventh inning when Chun-Hsiu Chen singled and Jaun Diaz followed with a double off the left-field wall to cut Durham’s lead to 3-1.
But Durham’s bullpen halted things from there. Josh Lueke replaced Odorizzi and retired his first two hitters to escape the seventh inning.
In the eighth, Columbus used a single and walk to put the tying run on with two outs. But Lueke struck out clean-up hitter Jeremy Hermida to end the threat.
In the ninth inning, close Kirby Yates allowed a single and issued a two-out walk. But he struck out pinch-hitter Luis Hernandez to end the game and record his ninth save.
Notes: The Bulls wore pink jerseys Saturday night, which were auctioned off to raise money for the Susan G. Koman Foundation in support of breast cancer awareness….Alex Colome will be rejoining the Bulls after being sent down from Tampa Bay to Durham on Saturday. A right-handed pitcher, Colome is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts with the Rays. In 14 starts with Durham, he is 4-6 with a 3.07 ERA….While Colome comes down to Triple-A, infielder Ryan Roberts is heading back up to Tampa Bay. Roberts batted .276 with four RBIs in eight games for the Bulls…Durham and Columbus continue their four-game series today with a 5:05 p.m. game. Left-hander Mike Montgomery (4-1., 3.98 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Bulls. Columbus has not named a starter for Sunday’s game.