After scuffling a bit in August, Jake Odorizzi took to the bullpen to make some alterations to his mechanics. On Friday, he reaped the rewards of that work.
The Royals' No. 2 prospect took a no-hitter into the seventh inning as the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals defeated the Arkansas Travelers, 5-2.
Odorizzi ended up allowing just one hit over seven frames, striking out six and walking two.
"I thought it was good. I've been working on a lot of things in the bullpen," said Odorizzi, who had a 4.60 ERA in August. "I was losing my front side the past couple games, so I was trying to get back over the rubber, stay calm and explode off of it. I've been working on that, and tonight I put it into a game."
Selected by the Brewers with the 32nd overall pick of the 2008 Draft, Odorizzi was acquired by the Royals in the offseason as part of a four-player package for Zack Greinke. He started the year by going 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA for Class A Advanced Wilmington, then put together a 5-3 record with a 4.72 ERA for the Naturals.
The 21-year-old right-hander faced the minimum through five Friday -- Darwin Perez walked in the third but was caught stealing to end the inning -- before issuing a leadoff walk to Alberto Rosario in the sixth. The Travelers' first hit came in the seventh, when Gabe Jacobo roped a one-out single to right-center.
"It was the third time through the order, I went for a first-pitch curveball," Odorizzi said. "I was trying to get ahead and missed. I went fastball away and he hit it in the right-center gap. He took it where it was pitched. He hit it pretty well, no question it was going to be a hit. He earned it."
Luis Jimenez, who was on first after being hit by a pitch, advanced to third but got caught in a rundown. That allowed Rosario to take third, giving Odorizzi little time to think about losing the no-hitter.
"There's a guy on third base, I've got to make a good pitch to keep a 2-0 lead going," he said. "I was just focused on the next hitter. No damage came, no runs scored. I ended up getting [Roberto Lopez] on two pitches. The no-hitter would've been good for everyone, but we got the win and that's all that really matters."
Opposing Odorizzi was Matt Shoemaker (12-5), who earlier this week was named Texas League Pitcher of the Year. The 24-year-old righty allowed two runs on five hits over five innings and lost his third straight start.
Odorizzi said it didn't matter who was pitching against him, it was just nice to get a "W."
"It feels good to end the regular season on a win, regardless of who it is," he said. "We knew we were in for a tight game tonight. I just wanted to go out there and give us the best chance to compete. We ended up getting to him in [the fifth] and I wanted to go out there and put up a zero and slam the door."
Although the regular season is nearing an end, Northwest Arkansas -- the defending Texas League champion -- is one win away from clinching a postseason spot.
"Everyone's really amped up and ready to go," Odorizzi said. "Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going."