ARLINGTON — Simply put, Jake Odorizzi had enough. He was tired of the sinking feeling that came when he didn’t pitch well, fed up with not giving his team a chance to win. There was no time for a pity party, though. Odorizzi reached down in his gut and released all his frustration.
“Today was: screw it, we’re going to pin our ears back and let’s pitch,” he said.
The result was probably his best outing as a member of the Astros. Odorizzi threw six innings and allowed just one hit — a solo homer to Houston nemesis Adolis García in the second inning — to lead the Astros to a 5-1 win over the Rangers on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field.
Odorizzi called it a “much-needed” outing for him and his tenure with the Astros — a statement which couldn’t ring anymore true.
“When you’re struggling, you need to attack,” Odorizzi said. “The big thing today was attacking and forcing swings, and also executing different speeds in different zones. I tried to utilize the whole strike zone today and mix the best I could. We had a good game plan, but a lot of work went into this start from the previous one.”
Odorizzi’s previous start was one of the worst of his career, one which he called “atrocious.” He faced eight batters Wednesday against the Angels and recorded two outs, giving up four walks, and six runs (three earned). On Tuesday, a determined Odorizzi retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced and threw 50 of 78 pitches for strikes.
“I got a lot of positive encouragement from teammates, a lot of help from people,” he said. “I think we’re all trying to go in the same direction here, so it’s nice to have guys back you and do what they can to help, and it really showed tonight. Confidence is back, execution is much better. Got tired of pitching like crap.”
Odorizzi didn’t want to single out which players or coaches showed him the most love in between starts in fear of leaving someone out. He said after his previous two starts, though, that he believed he was close to figuring it out, and his teammates recognized that, too.
“[They were] minor things last start, and I knew I was close,” he said. “Obviously, it’s tough to tell yourself to continue to do the same thing, especially when you got burned by it the start before. But when I said it last week, I meant it. We just have to keep on the same course. It’s going to turn. My stuff continues to get better. It’s just a matter of time.”
Odorizzi had good fastball execution up and down in the zone and worked his cutter off of that. He was also able to change the shape of his offspeed on the fly. He gave up a solo homer in the second inning to García and walked Willie Calhoun in the third. From there, Odorizzi sent down the final 12 batters he faced, including a six-pitch fourth inning, and lowered his ERA by three runs to 6.00.
“… Instead of trying to finesse and feel bad about yourself,” he said. “It’s like, ‘No, it’s not the time.’ I went through a lot of things in my head in between starts, how I couldn’t let it happen again and get back on the right track.”
Odorizzi did play with some fire, however. He gave up three fly balls to the warning track that were caught with little room to spare at the wall. Kole Calhoun hit a 356-foot flyout to right field in the second, Marcus Semien hit a 367-foot flyout to left field in the third, and García hit a 365-foot flyout to right to end the fourth.
“As long as it stays in,” Odorizzi said. “They built this stadium. … That’s pitching to the ballpark. … I’m not the architect that built this place. I just work here.”