CHICAGO – It was time to show up and show off, Jake Odorizzi felt.
“Yeah. I told some people yesterday, ‘I’m going to come out tomorrow, be me and set the tone,’” he said, “I think there was a little bit of an energy today that felt nice. It was normal. I was back. [Alex]Avila was back. The way we kind of set the tone in the first inning.”
Odorizzi’s fastball had life. His split-fingered pitch had bite. He was maneuvering through one of the best offenses in baseball before a cut on his right middle finger opened up during a pitch to James McCann in the fourth inning, forcing him from the game.
Relievers charged out of the bullpen and backed up what Odorizzi started, as the Twins retired the final 18 White Sox hitters to finish off a 5-1 win, ending Chicago’s six-game winning streak and setting up a showdown Thursday as they try to salvage a split of the four-game series. Cody Stashak pitched 2⅓ scoreless innings in relief of Odorizzi to pick up his first major league win.
Odorizzi has been unable to gain any traction this season as he’s been injured, battered and now cut. His frustration was evident as he talked about another setback.
“It’s like a paper cut. Like a large paper cut,” Odorizzi said as he showed the tip of his middle finger. “That skin underneath just needs to be exposed and harden up and all that type of stuff. That’s a day-by-day type of thing, and hopefully I’ll be able to make my next start and get back to it.
“But my focus is being ready for the playoffs and being able to do what I can do for this team. I know what type of pitcher I am. I don’t need to go out and prove that I deserve to be in the starting rotation. I just need to be healthy and get healthy with all these weird things that happened to me.”
Odorizzi was set to open the season in the rotation until he emerged from his last outing of summer camp with an intercostal strain that forced him to miss the first 14 games. He made his first start Aug. 8 and made two more before a 103-mile-per-hour line drive off the bat of Alex Gordon struck Odorizzi in the chest, knocking him out of the rotation until Wednesday.
“You hate to see that from anybody,” said Tyler Duffey, who pitched two scoreless innings. “It has kind of not been his season, frankly. It’s been one thing after another. Luckily, we were able to come in and pick him up.”
The Twins slugged three homers, a solo shot by Eddie Rosario in the second, a two-run blast to center by Byron Buxton in the fourth and a two-run poke by Miguel Sano in the eighth.
Odorizzi was sitting on a 3-0 lead in the fourth when he gave up a home run to Jose Abreu. It was during that at-bat that Odorizzi said one pitch got away from him that went up and in on Abreu and drew yelps from the White Sox dugout. He got the next two batters out, but the pitch to McCann led to him leaving the game.
Finding a groove has been elusive for Odorizzi. Now he’s going to do what he can to treat his finger — he said it’s not like the blister that kept him from pitching in the All-Star Game last season — and try to get the most out of his last outing or two before the postseason.
“When I’ve been out there I felt like, especially today, I felt the best I’ve felt this year,” he said. “Got swings and misses, everything that I could have wanted and to have something that I’ve never had happen to me before, it’s just one more kick to the groin.”