Odorizzi on batting: 'This is what we dream of'

Starter fans seven, drives in one with first Major League hit

Odorizzi on batting: 'This is what we dream of'

MIAMI -- Holding the opposition in check has proven to be the easy part for Jake Odorizzi more times than not. Picking up a win from it is another story.

The Rays starter threw five innings of shutout ball on Tuesday afternoon in a 4-3 win over the Marlins to gain a split of the two-game series at Marlins Park. Odorizzi allowed just two hits, one in each of the first two innings, walked three and struck out seven.

The hard-luck pitcher's lack of run support played a factor in having received six no-decisions coming into the game, which ranked second among Major League starters. Tampa Bay had scored a total of 23 runs for Odorizzi this season prior to Tuesday's game, including three runs or fewer in seven of his first nine starts. He has now allowed one earned run or fewer in five starts this season; the first four went for no decision.

But the Rays scored just enough to hold on, and Odorizzi picked up the win to even his record at 2-2 for the season (3.46 ERA).

It was also Odorizzi's 13th scoreless start going back to 2014. Since then, he has he's yielded one run or fewer in 28 games. He didn't get the win in 13 of those.

However, Tampa Bay's offense has picked it up a bit lately. The team has scored four or more runs in each of its past 10 games -- the club's longest such streak since 2013 and the longest current streak in the Majors. The Rays scored four or more runs in only 12 of their first 33 games.

Former Marlins player Logan Morrison was part of the reason on Tuesday. Morrison, who made his Major League debut with the Florida Marlins in 2010 and spent four seasons there, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored. He continues to hit the ball well on the road this season, as opposed to his .070 average (3-for-43) at Tropicana Field. 

And though Odorizzi earned a much-deserved win on the mound, it was his prowess at the plate that he was eager to talk about afterwards.

Odorizzi's RBI single

"It feels great. I felt like I was a player today," Odorizzi said. "AL pitchers, this is what we dream of, basically. You get, like, two chances a year, so you've got to try to make the most of them."

For the second consecutive game, Tampa Bay's starting pitcher collected his first Major League hit. Following up on Matt Moore's single in the fourth inning of Monday's game, Odorizzi came up with his first hit in the Majors -- and his drove in a run.

Odorizzi delivered an RBI single in the second inning, scoring Morrison with the game's first run. It was a lead the Rays never relinquished.

Those two hits are already more than the Tampa Bay's pitching staff was able to produce over the past three seasons. The Rays' pitchers collectively went 1-for-18 last season, 1-for-22 in 2014 and 1-for-21 in '13.

"Just hitting it where it was pitched, up and away, take it that way," Odorizzi said. "Just wanted to help the boys out and get us going. Turned out to be a pivotal kind of thing. The hit and RBI combo, you can't beat that, especially with two outs."

Although he threw 107 pitches in those five innings, Odorizzi said he could have gone longer, had the situation been a little different.

"I knew my spot [in the batting order] was coming up, and I wasn't going back out," he said of being pinch-hit for in the sixth. "But if it was an American League game, I would have felt fine going back out there. I wasn't tired and everything felt good today."

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.