PITTSBURGH — A trio of extras from PNC Park, where the snow has stopped. No, it’s started again. Oh, it stopped. Wait, there it goes again …
Jake Odorizzi has spent all but four games of his career in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform, “so I’ve kind of been spoiled.” Pitch in the Tropicana Field dome to start the season, and usually it’s warmed up by the time the Rays hit the road.
He hasn’t even been to Minnesota as a Twin yet, but he’s got a taste of what he’s in for.
“There was a great deal of wind, some snow. It was an interesting viewpoint out there,” Odorizzi said after pitching 4 1/3 innings in 35-degree weather at PNC Park. “Definitely the coldest game I’ve thrown in, probably in my life.”
The cold made his hand dry which made it difficult to get a good grip on the baseball. “I didn’t feel comfortable with my release point, getting a feel for the ball,” he said. “It’s a good precursor for Minnesota.”
Odorizzi’s next start comes Monday against the Astros — and it’s not expected to be any warmer in Target Field.
Wednesday was April 4, and Brian Dozier hit his fourth home run. That’s already more homers than Dozier has hit in any April of his career except 2014, when he had seven.
“I feel great. I feel great, that’s all I can say,” Dozier said of his unusually hot start.
His third-inning shot off a sinking changeup from Pirates starter Ivan Nova felt better than it wound up being, Dozier said. The ball carried into the left-field corner, and just dropped over the wall, barely out of reach of Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson. “I thought I hit it further back. I don’t know if I need to get into the weight room a little more,” Dozier said. “I thought it was way back, and then I saw [Dickerson] tracking it, and I picked up my trot a little bit.”
Dozier also stole his first base of the season, taking off after walking in the ninth inning with the Twins ahead by four. Given the tempest he ignited recently by suggesting Baltimore’s Chance Sisco was wrong to bunt with a seven-run deficit last weekend, Dozier said he was careful to make sure the steal was appropriate. “I made sure that I looked at [Twins manager Paul Molitor],” Dozier said. “Had the green light, so we’re all good.”
The only thing not so good about the day: The weather. The snow flurries grew heavy in the ninth inning. “Usually I’m always hoping they hit it to me,” he said, “but in the ninth, I was OK that they didn’t, let’s just say that.”
After relying on 21 shutout innings from the starting pitchers during their first series in Baltimore, the Twins’ bullpen began dominating in Pittsburgh. In two games against the Pirates, Twins relievers threw a total of 8 2/3 innings without allowing a run. That came after Twins starters Lance Lynn and Odorizzi allowed first-inning home runs to create an early deficit in both games.
“The bullpen did a really nice job,” Molitor said, “especially with Hildy [Trevor Hildenberger] coming in for two innings and picking us up.”