Odorizzi steals show in Buchanan's debut

Rookie gets behind in first inning, and Rays' starter stifles Astros

Odorizzi steals show in Buchanan's debut

ST. PETERSBURG -- By the time the Astros' Jake Buchanan shook off the nerves and overflowing adrenaline and settled into his first Major League start on Saturday afternoon, Rays starter Jake Odorizzi was on his way to a dominating performance.

Odorizzi threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings and combined with two relievers to hold the Astros to one hit -- an infield single by Jose Altuve in the fourth inning -- to send the Rays to their second shutout win in the past three days, 8-0, at Tropicana Field.

"To his credit, he did a tremendous job of plus and minusing and pitching to location and expanding the zone with his breaking stuff," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Even when he fell behind, he was able to throw his curveball and slider for strikes and kept us off balance all day."

Odorizzi sent down 22 of the 25 batters he faced before being replaced with one out in the eighth after throwing 111 pitches, including 22 swings and misses. The bullpen was able to complete the one-hitter, the first against the Astros since Aug. 12, 2013, when the Rangers' Yu Darvish went eight innings.

The Astros' lone hit came when Altuve, who leads the Majors in hits, hit a comebacker up the middle that ricocheted off Odorrizi to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who could not throw out the speedster. That was all that kept the Rays from no-hitting the Astros.

"We finally got hits when we needed to add on a little bit," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "The pitching was outstanding. Jake was really good. The one hit, I think, could've been caught by [second baseman Ben] Zobrist had it not deflected off him."

Altuve leads the American League in batting average at .336, and his Major League-best 102 hits put him on pace for 128 before the All-Star break, which would break Bob Watson's Astros record of 123 set in 1973.

Buchanan, called up from Triple-A to make a spot start in place of Brad Peacock, allowed four consecutive hits after one out in the first inning, including an RBI double by Kevin Kiermaier and an RBI single by James Loney to make it 2-0.

"It was a little nerve-wracking but not as bad as I thought it was going to be," Buchanan said. "I think I had a little adrenaline, more than I'm used to, so it kind of affected my command. I just didn't really have the command I normally do and walked some batters and fell behind with some bad pitches. It was pretty exciting to get out there and pitch in a big league game."

After the first, Buchanan held the Rays off the board until the fifth, when he hit Evan Longoria with a pitch. Longoria stole second and scored on a Brandon Guyer single, and Matt Joyce followed with a double to right to push the lead to 4-0 and end Buchanan's day. The rookie was responsible for another run in that inning, though, and the Rays later provided insurance in a three-run eighth.

Buchanan allowed five runs, eight hits and three walks with no strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

"It looked like he settled down and did a good job of getting ground ball after ground ball," Porter said. "He's a ground-ball pitcher, pitches to contact. You look at both of the innings in which they were able to get to him, it was because the ball was up in the zone."

Astros long reliever Jerome Williams gave the bullpen some much-needed rest by throwing 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs in the eighth.

"That's what team baseball is all about," Porter said. "A lot of times you lose a guy, but at the same time you put yourself in position to be in position to run off a good winning streak because you're able to save your bullpen and come out tomorrow with Dallas [Keuchel] going and a fresh bullpen. We'll take that."

Buchanan had his parents, Sonda and Buck, in the stands, as well as his wife, Chelsa Messinger, who lives in Fort Myers, and other friends and relatives. What the immediate future holds for Buchanan remains to be seen, but he can now say he is a Major Leaguer.

"It's been pretty crazy," he said. "It hasn't really set in yet. I think I was more nervous yesterday on the flights here. I didn't eat all day and was nervous, and today I just tried to take it in and have fun."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.