Jake Odorizzi has been putting up strange numbers throughout April.
His finest start of the year didn't earn him a decision, while his worst outing handed him his first win. He has fanned a career-high 12 batters per nine innings, but induced a career-low one double play.
The lone time he pitched into the seventh inning was also the game in which he threw the fewest number of strikes. Four of the five extra-base hits he has allowed have left the yard, but he is yet to yield a double.
With everything else being equal, Monday's outing can almost be considered "regular."
Tampa Bay's No. 3 prospect surrendered four singles over five innings in the Triple-A Durham Bulls' 5-0 win over the host Syracuse Chiefs.
"My strikeouts are up and so are my fly balls. I get a lot of fly balls to begin with," Odorizzi said. "When I put guys on, I just want to get them out as quickly as possible. It doesn't matter if it's a strikeout or a flyball or a ground ball. I'm not worried about the double plays. They're nice, but you can't control everything, I guess."
The 23-year-old threw 59 of 91 pitches for strikes while fanning six batters. He did not walk a batter for the second time this year.
The 6-foot-2 right-hander worked around Will Rhymes' two-out single in the first inning and he stranded two runners on base in the third. Chris Marrero led off the fourth frame with a base hit to left field, but he was erased on Micah Owings' forceout.
"Overall, it went well," he said. "I was able to keep the ball down and work off of my fastball and keep them off balance. I threw my changeup and slider and mixed things up with my curveball as well."
An inning later, Chris Rahl beat out an infield single with one out, but Eury Perez lined into an inning-ending double play.
"It was a slider and I hung it a little bit," Odorizzi said of the pitch to Perez. "He got the barrel to it, but I think Beckham was shading him up the middle. He made the throw [back to first base] over the runner which was difficult to do. It was a big boost for the team."
Odorizzi (2-0) started the season with 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball at home to Gwinnett on April 8, but he exited with the game while it ws scoreless. He struck out a combined 17 batters over 10 1/3 innings in consecutive no-decisions against Charlotte on April 13 and 18, marking the longest winless streak he has experienced to start a year in full-season ball.
He earned his first win of 2013 at home to Toledo on Wednesday, despite allowing four runs on four hits and a season-high four walks and three homers over five innings. He struck out a season-low five batters, but the Bulls gave him seven runs of support in the first four frames and never looked back.
"I didn't have my stuff with me, but I kept my team in the game," said MLB.com's No. 45 prospect. "That was the worst I have thrown all year, but I took confidence knowing that even though the stuff wasn't showing up, I could still get by. It's good when you can get through that. You just have to take the good with the bad.
"[Home runs] were the main point of emphasis today. I've been working with pitching coach Neil [Allen] since that last outing about staying back over the rubber and separating and keeping the ball down in the zone. The pitches I left up today were up there on purpose. My command was good."
Originally selected by the Brewers 32nd overall in the 2008 Draft, the Illinois native was sent to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal on Dec. 19, 2010. Kansas City, in turn, moved the right-hander to the Rays with Mike Montgomery, Wil Myers and Pat Leonard in exchange for James Shields on Dec 9.
Odorizzi split time between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha in 2012, going a combined 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 26 starts. His 15 wins tied for the third-most in the Minors and he started for the U.S. team in the Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. He made his Major League debut with the Royals on Sept. 23 and went 0-1 in two big league appearances.
On Monday, Frank De Los Santos worked two hitless innings in relief of Odorizzi and Steve Geltz struck out a pair of batters over the final two frames to seal the victory. Catcher Chris Gimenez was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored and third baseman Cole Figueroa recorded two RBIs.
Chiefs starter Chris Young (0-1) allowed five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits and two walks while striking out two batters over 5 2/3 innings.