Pitching, Defense, & Three Run Homers Lead To Easy Victory Over Rangers
Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver prided his teams on pitching, defense, and the three run homer – in that order. Tonight the Rays received solid pitching from Jake Odorizzi, played errorless baseball, and hit two three run homers on their way to defeating the Texas Rangers 8-1.
The victory went to Jake Odorizzi who delivered six scoreless innings allowing three hits striking out four and walking three. It was his first big league victory in six career starts. One of the primary reasons he won the fifth starters job in spring training was his quick adaption to a new grip on his changeup. Of his 95 pitches thrown 22 of them were changeup and he got six swinging strikes with the pitch. Along with his four strikeouts he was able to retire another six batters via the groundball.
Joe Saunders started for the Rangers and in 2013 he struggled with the Seattle Mariners posting a record of 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA. He particularly struggled versus right handed batters who posted a triple slash line of .337/.394/.559. He had much better success against left handed batters holding them to .214/.251/.314. In order to take advantage of Saunders struggles Joe Maddon loaded his lineup with nine right handed bats.
The strategy paid off as the Rays put pressure on Saunders in the first inning loading the bases and scoring the first run when Sean Rodriguez was hit by a pitch.
The Rays put a pair of runners on base for Rodriguez again in the third inning and he delivered a three run homer to put the Rays up 4-o. The home run gave Rodriguez four RBI on the night which he had accomplished two previous times. On April 21, 201o versus the Chicago White Sox and most recently against the Miami Marlins on June 17, 2011.
Saunders evening came to an end in the bottom of the fourth when he was struck in the ankle by a line drive off the bat of Evan Longoria. Saunders had already allowed a RBI base hit to Wil Myers that plated Desmond Jennings who had doubled.
Daniel McCutchen came in and retired Logan Forsythe to end the fourth inning but was roughed up by the bottom of the Rays order in the fifth. Sean Rodriguez doubled and Brandon Guyer reached on an error by third baseman Adrian Beltre to put runners at first and second for catcher Ryan Hanigan who delivered a 3-run homer to give the Rays an 8-0 lead.