ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi said his back-to-back solid outings were a result of keeping it simple, but what he’s doing sounds complicated.
At least for the hitter.
Odorizzi, who faces the A’s tonight when the Rays open a six-game homestand, didn’t stray too much from his game plan during his first few starts of the season. His pitch sequence never varied as he threw the same pitches in the same situations.
The hitters, of course, took notice. But pitching coach Jim Hickey and C Ryan Hanigan worked with Odorizzi on mixing his pitches during his previous two outings to be less predictable.
“We switched things up,” Odorizzi said. “Not gigantically, enough, but you can’t really get comfortable.”
Odorizzi was 1-3 with an 8.72 ERA in his first six starts and averaged less than five innings per outing. But in his past two games, he has not allowed an earned run and has 18 strikeouts in 11 innings.
Odorizzi said he hopes Hanigan (hamstring) can catch him tonight. If not, he’s comfortable throwing to Jose Molina. Either way, Odorizzi said the game plan won’t change.
“(I’m) trying to keep things similar to the last two starts as possible,” he said. “Things are going well. I’m not going to change what I’m doing.”
Kiermaier remains, Gomes to Durham
RHP Brandon Gomes was optioned to Triple-A Durham, meaning CF Kevin Kiermaier remains with the team until at least Thursday when RHP Alex Cobb (strained left oblique) is expected to be activated from the disabled list.
Cobb threw a bullpen Monday and the Rays said it went well.
Kiermaier, who has impressed with his defense during his two stints with the Rays, had two hits over the weekend in Anaheim, including his first big-league homer.
Kiermaier could remain with the team when Cobb returns, though that likely would mean the Rays would waive OF Brandon Guyer and risk losing him to another team or use the option on UTL Logan Forsythe.
Gomes has struggled of late, allowing home runs in three of his past four outings.
“Just got to make better pitches,” Gomes said after allowing a two-run homer and two inherited runs to score in Saturday’s loss.
The move means LHP Cesar Ramos is back in the bullpen as the long man.
The Rays’ offense revolves around 3B Evan Longoria, which is good when Longoria is hitting and not so good when he is not.
Longoria wrapped up a tough road trip with an 0-for-4 performance Sunday in Anaheim. Longoria was 2-for-13 with an RBI in front of his hometown fans. He was 3-for-22 on the seven-game road trip.
“I don’t want him to apply way too much pressure on himself,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Just go out there and play his normal game. Of course he had opportunities. Of course every good player is going to go through one of those moments, it’s just part of the game.”
The Rays are expected to announce today that Cobb will return from the DL and start Thursday afternoon against the A’s. ... The Rays have been shut out four times this season, their most through 45 games since 2006.