• Brian L. Barefield

Astros Jake Odorizzi Bounces Back From Bad Start To Pitch A Gem

Photo Credit-Houston Astros

It has been a while since the Houston Astros pitchers and hitters have been on the same page. The last time that happened was over eight games ago in Seattle when starting pitcher Justin Verlander limited the Mariners to no runs over eight innings as the Astros scored four runs to get the victory.

Houston starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi didn’t have Verlander’s exact outing. Still, his performance was stellar nonetheless, as he helped the Astros bounce back from a 6-2 loss on Monday to defeat the Texas Rangers 5-1.

Odorizzi (1-2) pitched six innings and only allowed one run, which came on a home run to left field by Rangers center fielder Adolis Garcia in the bottom of the second inning. It was his first win of the season, and he needed that confidence builder. Odorizzi’s last start wasn’t a good one for him as he allowed six runs (three earned) and threw 42 pitches to only record two outs and be relieved from the game in less than an inning of work.

He needed only eight pitches on Tuesday night to get out of the first inning.

“Confidence was back, execution was much better. Just got tired of pitching like crap,” said Odorizzi. “When you are struggling you need to attack. I think the big thing today was attacking. Force swings, also execute different speeds in different zones. I tried to utilize the whole strike zone today and mix the best I could. We had a really good game plan, but you know, a lot of work went into the start from the previous one.”

Odorizzi’s game plan worked to perfection once he settled into the game in the bottom of the third inning. He retired 12 in a row after allowing a leadoff walk to outfielder Willie Calhoun. The former 2019 All-Star pitcher knew coming into the game; that he could not have another outing like his previous one against the Angels, so he approached the mound Tuesday with a different mindset.

“It’s being an A-hole, I guess is the best way to put it,” Odorizzi said. “Instead of trying to just finesse and feel bad about yourself it’s just like, ‘No, now is not the time.’ I went through a lot of things in my head in between this start and last. I just wasn’t going to let it happen again and get back on the right track.”

Photo Credit-Houston Astros

It appears that attitude rubbed off on some of the Astros batters as they got back in the groove of things scoring five or more runs in two out of the last three games. Designated hitter Yordan Alvarez reached base on his first three plate appearances with a double, single, and a walk, while right fielder Kyle Tucker drove in three of the five Houston runs.

Tucker has 4 RBI in the first two games of the Rangers series, which is progress since he had none in his previous 13 games. His massive 426-foot home run to right field in the top of the fourth inning was his first home run since April 8 against the Los Angeles Angels.

“The guy can hit,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker when asked about Tucker at the plate. “He started out slow last year too. Real slow. So, we weren’t worried about Tucker. He is probably worried more about himself than we worry about him. Tucker is going to hit. We have a long way to go for him to produce.”

On Wednesday, Houston will be back in action against the Rangers in the third game of the four-game series at Globe Life Field. Pitcher Cristian Javier will be making his first start of the season for the Astros after being added to the rotation from the bullpen.

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