The average outing by a major league starting pitcher currently is around 5⅓ innings.
The Twins believed they would get more than that consistently from Jake Odorizzi when they traded for him during spring training. But they would gladly take that now.
Odorizzi is struggling to be even average these days. And his outing Saturday at Target Field was his worst yet.
Unable to find the right pitch at the right time to finish off hitters, Odorizzi was beaten down a wave of soft line drives Saturday, and the Rangers beat the Twins 9-6. He was knocked out of the game in the second inning for the second-shortest start of his career. And his shortest start was because of an injury.
Odorizzi’s ERA is up to 4.97. He is averaging 14.9 outs a game — less than five innings. He entered leading the majors with 19.1 pitches per inning — then threw 60 in 1⅔ innings Saturday.
He has pitched at least six innings only once in his past 10 starts, so he’s not in a good mood.
“When it goes bad, it goes really bad,” he said. “You throw pitches you want to throw and it gets hit. … I have a lot of feelings about stuff, and I just have to work through it. I have my fellow teammates here to help me get back on track.”
The Twins almost got Odorizzi (3-5) off the hook. They got a two-run double by Eddie Rosario in the ninth inning, and Logan Morrison, who hit a two-run homer in the sixth, batted with two outs and the bases loaded. But he struck out to end the game.
Robinson Chirinos and Adrian Beltre each homered for Texas. Jurickson Profar contributed too, as he was hit by pitches three times. Profar was hit by Odorizzi in the second inning as Odorizzi slipped. Profar was hit by Matt Magill in the fourth, but the Twins felt the pitch was close to a strike and Profar was crowding the plate.
Profar then stole second — with the Rangers leading by seven runs at the time. Then Addison Reed hit Profar in the seventh, making it appear it was related to the stolen base and causing Texas manager Jeff Banister to yell angrily.
“It’s the fourth inning,” Banister said. “We’re still playing baseball. He stole second base in that situation that I didn’t think was an unnecessary situation, in my opinion. There’s still a lot of game to be played.”
Molitor had a different view.
“The thought process between the unwritten rules of the game is not clearly defined,” he said. “What I might think and what he might think might be different things. I was surprised that [Profar] ran with the score the way it was, when he did. And getting hit there was something that Banister felt wasn’t appropriate.”
The Twins have bigger issues to deal with, like getting Odorizzi straightened out.
Odorizzi was 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA in his career vs. Texas entering Saturday, so it looked like the right matchup to get him going. Rosario then staked him to a 2-0 lead with a first-inning home run — a lead Odorizzi immediately gave back.
Odorizzi faced 10 batters in second inning. He had two strikes on five of them but failed to finish any of them off. He gave up six runs on six hits and it took him 42 pitches to get two outs before Molitor pulled him.
“I’m sure he’s frustrated,” Molitor said. “I think part of those guys that you know are team-centered, they feel the disappointment of letting their teammates down and putting them in precarious positions. I think that, whether it’s an encouraging word when he walks through the clubhouse or get a chance to speak with him tomorrow, you can’t sulk too long, because it just doesn’t work.”