• Brian L. Barefield

Hall of Fame Advice Helps Odorizzi Secure His Second Consecutive Win

Photo Credit-Houston Astros

The results were different for Houston Astros starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi in the teams’ alternate ‘Space City’ uniforms on Monday. The last time he wore that outfit in front of the home crowd at Minute Maid Park, he had a terrible outing that lasted less than an inning allowing six runs (three earned) on 42 pitches.

Odorizzi was brilliant in his start against the Seattle Mariners, where he threw 6 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball as the Astros won the series opener 3-0. It was his second consecutive outing where he was efficient around the strike zone.

“Location has been great,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker about Odorizzi’s performance. “He used his fastball a lot more and then his split was better. It shows you what kind of shape he’s in, he maintained his velocity the whole time he was out there. He was aggressive in the strike zone.”

There is a reason that Odorizzi has become more aggressive since his first start at Minute Maid Park. He had a conversation with a teammate that will be a first-ballot MLB Hall of Fame selection in pitcher Justin Verlander who offered him some tips heading into his second start of the season against the Texas Rangers.

Photo Credit-Houston Astros

“When you have a Hall of Famer in your clubhouse you and you know the success that he has had over his entire career, you tend to listen,” said Odorizzi. “There is a lot of good information that he can come up with that can give you a different view on things. A lot of us (pitchers) get into single minded thinking and sometimes you have tunnel vision instead of seeing the broader picture. He is a great teammate. Not only to me but some other guys around here to.”

Verlander may have offered the advice for Odorizzi to be more effective, but it was his other teammates that helped him secure his second win of the season. Designated hitter Yordan Alvarez’s solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning gave the Astros a 1-0 lead. Two innings later, rookie, Jeremy Peña sent a two-run homer into left field that ricocheted off the 2021 American League Pennant flag to increase the margin to 3-0.

Photo Credit-Houston Astros

Odorizzi’s night would end in the top of the seventh inning after allowing a two-out walk to Eugenio Suarez. Even though his 89 pitches (55 strikes) were the most he has thrown this season, he wanted to stay in and complete the inning and was frustrated when he was being relieved by Dusty Baker.

“I was angry at my pitch execution on that last batter,” Odorizzi said about the conversation he had with Baker on the mound. “I had him (Suarez) set up for getting out of the inning, but I didn’t get a swing on a pitch that I thought was going to be an aggressive count for him and I didn’t execute my 3-1 pitch. So, I told him I was more frustrated with myself. I should have been able to get through that inning with the way I was throwing the ball.”

Houston will play the second game of the three-game series against the Mariners on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. The first pitch is at 7:10 pm CST.

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