MINNEAPOLIS — Jake Odorizzi, the Twins turn their desperate eyes to you.
With their season on the line Monday night in Game 3 of the ALDS, the Twins will give the ball to Odorizzi, hoping their All-Star right-hander can give them a start like they’ve been missing through the first two games of the series.
“Every single time we’ve had Jake take the mound for us, we go into those games in a very confident place,” manager Rocco Baldelli said Sunday at Target Field. “Right now in this series, it’s very nice to know that we can go out there and know what we’re going to get from Jake. He’s been extraordinarily consistent. He’s had spurts of dominance. He’s missed a ton of bats. He’s just the kind of guy that you’d want out there when you need a really good effort and to give yourself a chance to win the game.”
The Twins have no other choice if their season is to continue, having seen their first two bullets go astray. Jose Berrios gave up three runs (one earned) and four hits in four innings to start Game 1 while rookie Randy Dobnak could not record an out in the third inning of Game 2, getting roughed up for four runs on six hits.
By the time each starter has left the game, the Twins have trailed, only to see those deficits balloon due to the work of the bullpen. Through 16 innings in this series, Twins pitchers have issued 16 walks. Navigating a healthy Yankees lineup may be like walking through a minefield, but it will be up to Odorizzi to put them on more solid footing and give them a chance against Luis Severino.
“I think you just can’t beat yourself,” said Odorizzi, who has not pitched since Sept. 24. “You can’t do any favors by giving them free bases, extra bases, whatever it may be. I think you have to try to attack them as much as they’re trying to attack you. I’ve seen them many times over the years, and it seems like regardless of the people in the lineup, they’re always the same approach and always the same mentality.”
In his career against the Yankees, the former Tampa Bay Ray is 7-9 with a 4.71 ERA. Odorizzi faced them twice this year with split results. In his first start against them at Yankee Stadium in May, he tossed six scoreless innings of two-hit ball. When the teams met again in July at Target Field, he got drilled for nine runs and 10 hits in four innings.
“We’ve had him come up in about four or five really big games this year where we just needed a really quality outing, and he’s responded every single time,” reliever Trevor May said. “He’s been that guy all year. I don’t think there’s anyone else we’d rather have in this situation.”