5/10/2014 8:00 P.M. ET
Odorizzi's career night boosts confidence
By Jim Hawkins / Special to MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Even though he lasted only five innings and didn't get the win, Jake Odorizzi said he got a huge boost of confidence from Friday's night's 11-strikeout performance against the Indians, which he hopes will serve him well moving forward.
"It wasn't mechanical, it wasn't anything; it was just execution," said Odorizzi (1-3, 5.79 ERA), who has previously struggled his second and third times through the batting order.
Odorizzi's career-high 11 K's tied for the second most by a rookie pitcher in the Major Leagues this season. The Rays' record for strikeouts by a rookie is 12, set by Dan Wheeler on Sept. 12, 1999.
"That's the best I've mixed all year," continued Odorizzi. "That was kind of our game plan going into it, trying to keep it simple. You've got to start someplace. Hopefully this will be the right direction for me going forward."
Odorizzi's slow curve, in particular, stood out Friday night.
"It's a big pitch," Odorizzi said. "I've been kind of getting away from it in my past outings, using it more sparingly. I think it was a big key to my success, just showing a different speed and something different that nobody is used to seeing."
Manager Joe Maddon was also complimentary of the way the young pitcher executed.
"We talked about going out there with a different game plan, and he did," said Maddon. "Just understanding what he does well, primarily. He mixed all his pitches extremely well. Self-awareness is a really wonderful quality to have. We spent some time trying to give him that awareness moment.
"His stuff is good. I'll defend his stuff. Now how do you utilize your stuff? That's where we're at with him right now. We talked primarily about approach and utilizing all of his weapons in a better manner."
Cobb scheduled to throw simulated game
ST. PETERSBURG -- Starting pitcher Alex Cobb, who is coming off a strained left oblique, will throw a simulated game of four innings or 60 pitches in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Monday. He could be back in the Rays' rotation by the end of the month.
If all goes well on Monday, Cobb will probably begin a rehab assignment next Saturday while the Rays are on the West Coast.
"He's not far off," said manager Joe Maddon, as he kept an eye on Cobb's bullpen session before Saturday night's game. "He's kind of frisky."
"[Cobb] felt great today," added Rays trainer Ron Porterfield.
Streaking DeJesus gets shot at leadoff spot
ST. PETERSBURG -- Outfielder David DeJesus, who tied his career high with four hits Friday night and was batting .415 (17-for-41) over his last 15 games entering Saturday, was in the leadoff spot in the Rays' batting order again for the second game of the series.
"The way he's swinging the bat right now, it would be kind of a waste to put him back down in the seven-hole," said manager Joe Maddon.
"It's a crazy game," said DeJesus, who struggled much of last month, lapsing into a career-long 0-for-24 slump before getting hot on April 22. "You have your ups and downs, and I never let that take over my game. I just wanted to keep working.
"Things are good. Balls are starting to fall. I'm just trying to get on base for the guys behind me."
Archer reflects on brief stint with Indians
ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-hander Chris Archer was originally drafted by the Indians in the fifth round of the 2006 Draft.
"Reflecting on it at this moment, [being traded] was the best thing that could have happened to me in my career," Archer said.
Archer was traded by the Indians to the Cubs in 2008 and acquired by the Rays in '11.
"Everything that happens in life, happens for a reason," said Archer, who will make his eighth start of the season Sunday against the Tribe. "If I had stayed in the Indians' organization, I don't know if I'd be here today.
"I learned a lot in the Indians' organization. I also learned this is a business, and we're all pawns, subject to being traded."
• Shortstop Yunel Escobar was back in the Rays' lineup at shortstop Saturday after sustaining a right thumb contusion in the first inning Friday night.
"He's fine, he's ready to rock-and-roll," Maddon said. "All the tests were negative. I think his thumb just got in the way of a ground ball."
• Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson continued his comeback, throwing "40 fastballs and changeups" off the mound in a bullpen session Saturday and "five or six curveballs off flat ground.
"It went good," said Hellickson, who will throw another bullpen session on Tuesday.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.