One swing changes Odorizzi's fate

Castro's home run ends no-hit bid, hands Rays loss

One swing changes Odorizzi's fate

ST. PETERSBURG -- The ball cracked off of the bat, and Jake Odorizzi didn't turn to look where it landed.

He'd faced 20 batters, and none of them had gotten a hit, just one measly walk. A dominant and consistent fastball had put together what manager Kevin Cash argued might be the best start of the year for his team.

Then one swing from Starlin Castro and one hit -- the only hit of the afternoon for New York -- went so far that Odorizzi didn't need to watch it to know what it meant. A 1-0 Tampa Bay lead had turned into a 2-1 deficit, the score the Rays would eventually lose by on Sunday.

"One swing can change the whole outcome," Odorizzi said following the loss.

The Rays' right-hander retired the first 16 batters he faced, and he had a no-hitter through 6 1/3 innings. He lasted seven innings, struck out six, walked a batter and threw 71 strikes in 108 pitches.

But the most torturous number for Odorizzi was one -- the one hit that erased a no-hitter, a shutout and a lead all in one fell swoop.

"That's a difficult loss," Cash said. " … He really quieted a lineup for an entire game. He allowed one hit. A difficult pill to swallow."

It was the first time since 1914 that the Yankees have won a game when getting just one hit.

Odorizzi claimed he wasn't thinking about the possibility of perfection. In his last start, he was effective but not efficient over five scoreless, 107-pitch innings. Sunday, he got ahead in the counts, and his fastball was showing good velocity and getting up on hitters that had a lot of experience against him.

Odorizzi struck out two in the first and one in the second, third and fourth. The closest call he had to giving up a hit was when Alex Rodriguez bounced one back to him in the fifth and he lobbed a slow underhand toss to Logan Morrison that the slugger could have beaten out if he was running harder.

Rays catcher Curt Casali said the pitch to Castro was a good one. A fastball outside, just like he had called for. It was a better piece of hitting than it was an Odorizzi mistake.

"I was just looking for a pitch I could drive," Castro said. "He had done a great job making good pitches today. He had all his pitches. He looked really good."

After the game, Odorizzi stood by his locker, putting on a collared shirt and jeans. The team would be boarding a plane to Kansas City less than an hour after its loss, and he had to dress nicely for the ride. His back was to the crowd of reporters that stood there waiting for him.

He was one pitch, one swing away from it all being so much better than it was. But all it took was one swing.

"I just needed to be a hair better than I was," Odorizzi said.

Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.