Odorizzi pushes himself in 120-pitch outing

Odorizzi pushes himself in 120-pitch outing

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jake Odorizzi used a career-high 120 bullets on Friday night.

That's seven more pitches than he's ever thrown in a Major League game and that allowed the right-hander to get through the sixth inning to earn a no-decision in the Rays' 4-2 win over the Twins at Target Field.

"I was perfectly fine throwing 120," Odorizzi said. "My body felt fine. I don't think my stuff wavered at all. But, I did a good job of holding them in check with not the best stuff. So it was nice to get that extra amount of pitches when I knew I didn't have my best stuff and they knew it as well. So it's a confidence booster for me."

The big question is whether the Rays' willingness to let him throw more pitches could be a precursor regarding how they proceed going forward.

Odorizzi's work came a night after Rays starter Matt Moore got lifted following a five-inning, 96-pitch outing that prompted him to express that he feels equipped to pitch deeper into the games if the Rays see fit.

Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters that "as an organization and as a staff" they want their starters to go deeper into games.

"We understand that they are kind of the foundation of us having success," Cash said. "This organization has been built around having successful starters. We need to get back to that.

"...Saying that, you have to pitch well. I think our starters understand that situation and understand that they're very capable of pitching better and giving us better opportunities to win."

Cash said his starters are "competitors" and a lot of times when one for them throws 95 to 105 pitches a fine line exists when making the decision to leave them in or to take them out when "he still thinks he's the best candidate, that's how their minds work."

"We take that into consideration," Cash said. "But talking to [pitching coach Jim Hickey] on the bench, we have to make decisions with what we think is best for the club at that given time.

"It'd be concerning if you went out there and took a ball from a guy and he was like meeting you halfway and giving it to you. You'd much rather have the guy who's wanting to stay out there and competing."

Cash allowed that they've "made it clear to all the starters" that for the team to turn around its season "a lot relies on their shoulders."

"They have to pitch better," Cash said. "We have to overlook some of the stats right now and what's been taking place the past couple of weeks and kind of put the blinders on and nose to the ground and just, let's get on a roll. We're going to do that by pitching and going out there and having quality starts."

Odorizzi said he doesn't know if the longer leash he was extended Friday was a precursor for the starters going deeper into the games.

"I just try to pitch until I can't anymore," Odorizzi said. "...Just going out there, throwing 100-plus and not really dropping off any, I think that's the best I can do in that situation and hopefully if the opportunity presents itself again they'll have a little more confidence in my having a higher pitch count."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.