Odorizzi stellar in start versus Pirates

Homer to Freese only blemish on sharp ledger

Odorizzi stellar in start versus Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Outside of one pitch to Pittsburgh's David Freese in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Rays' Jake Odorizzi could not have asked for a better spring start on Saturday.

The right-hander struck out six over 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits, two walks and a hit batter in the Rays' 3-1 win. Of his 107 pitches, 67 were strikes.

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"Definitely today, seeing their A-squad lineup and getting into the seventh inning with one little mistake, it was good," Odorizzi said.

"I really thought I threw the ball well. ... It was good to treat this like a regular game, and we just went with what was working."

Odorizzi had just one 1-2-3 inning, meaning that he had to pitch out of the stretch while keeping the running game in check throughout the night. When he needed it most, Odorizzi was able to induce strikeouts, including two swinging on Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, both on fastballs.

The only real blemish on Odorizzi's performance came in that bottom of the sixth. Leading off the inning, Freese drilled a bomb over the head of center fielder Kevin Kiermaier for a no-doubt homer.

"When [Kiermaier] didn't see it, I just kind of assumed it was going to be a home run," Odorizzi said. "Besides one pitch -- I didn't really want to walk him, so I attacked him with the fastball like I was everybody else, and he got into it. It happens."

The greatest challenge may have been the humidity. Though the temperature was only 82 degrees, it was certainly sticky. Though home games during the regular season will be indoors, Odorizzi said that being exposed to the weather would be good for road games.

"In the first inning or two, I was trying to wipe off the sweat, just so I could get a better feel for the ball," Odorizzi said. "It's good for those July games -- for New York, Baltimore and Texas. You can't really simulate them at the Trop."

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.