Odorizzi in like a lamb, out like a lion vs. Jays

Odorizzi in like a lamb, out like a lion vs. Jays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The way Jake Odorizzi's 100th-career start began in Sunday's matinee against the Blue Jays, it looked as if the Rays' right-hander might finish hurting in more ways than one.

Odorizzi labored through a 25-pitch first inning, allowing a solo shot to Toronto slugger Josh Donaldson -- his eighth consecutive outing with a homer dating to 2016 -- and another run on a groundout from Troy Tulowitzki. He was then struck on the back of his left hamstring with a sharp line drive from Jose Bautista in the third that "hurt pretty good," and nearly forced him out of the game, then had to dodge a helicoptering bat that slipped out of Donaldson's hands three frames later.

Odorizzi nailed with comebacker

What was far from painful, however, was the rest of Odorizzi's day in Tampa Bay's 7-2 victory at Tropicana Field. In fact, it was superb.

Following a 5-0 loss to the Yankees in his season debut on Tuesday, Odorizzi bounced back with a solid performance against Toronto. He battled through six innings, yielding just two hits and striking out four with one walk on 101 pitches.

Odorizzi sat down the last eight batters he faced and 16 of 17 to finish the day -- allowing only Kendrys Morales to reach in the fourth on a hit-by-pitch -- after trailing by two runs just five batters in.

"I just kind of found the groove, and that was about it," said Odorizzi, who improved to 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA and became the sixth pitcher to reach the 100 career starts in a Rays uniform.

"I was a lot more erratic this start than my one before, and I had better results. It was just one of those days where I was kind of fighting myself, but I was able to get through it."

Manager Kevin Cash said he was most impressed with how the 27-year-old managed to not only get through being "smoked" by Bautista, but settle in and find his efficiency afterward.

Cash on Rays' win over Blue Jays

"That hurts, and it really affects a pitcher with their stride and everything," Cash said. "Baseball is a funny game. I bet you Jake would probably tell you that he felt better during his first start. He had better command and better overall stuff, but he battled today and kept a strong lineup very quiet."

A little bit of pain with a lot of early confidence gained as the Rays are off to their best start in franchise history at 5-2. Odorizzi, for one, will take it.

"I think we're off to a really nice start," he said. "I said in Spring Training, we need to get off to a good start to compete. It's hard to dig [out of] a hole."

Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.