SEATTLE -- Aside from the matter of Ben Zobrist's left thumb, which is dislocated and could land him on the disabled list, the last two days in the Pacific Northwest couldn't have gone any better for the Tampa Bay Rays.
David Price pitched like a Cy Young Award contender Tuesday and Jake Odorizzi pitched Wednesday afternoon like a rookie who has finally figured out how to fight his way through a big league lineup.
The results were a pair of hard-earned wins, the last being a 2-0 victory Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners that gave the Rays the series win.
“We've had a bit of a rough go of it lately, hopefully we can get a little bit of a roll on, go out and win some more and keep winning series,” closer Grant Balfour said after he retired the Mariners in order during the ninth inning of the series finale.
The Rays scored their runs on a bases-loaded walk by Yunel Escobar and a wild pitch.
“It wasn't an offensive outburst by any stretch of the imagination, however, that's how we get normally things going, pitching and defense,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays closed the series with 17 straight scoreless innings and won two in a row for the first time since winning three straight May 1 and 2.
“We're trying to get out of the little hole that we put ourselves in, and every win now is a good win. This ain't over 'til October and we've got a lot of games to play,” Escobar said with bench coach Dave Martinez serving as the interpreter.
Odorizzi worked the first six innings -- the first five hitless. More importantly, he executed the same game plan that served him well against Cleveland in his previous outing. Odorizzi used all four of his pitches and mixed them well. He threw his low-90s fastball up in the zone to get the Mariners batters to chase, which some did.
Odorizzi, 0-3 with an 8.72 ERA in five starts before facing the Indians back at Tropicana Field, is 1-0 with 18 strikeouts and no runs over his last two starts.
“It's encouraging to see the results keep coming,” Odorizzi said. “It's a process. It's a learning process. I learned a lot during that tough stretch I went on. Learned what to do, how to use stuff, different things for different situations. Being through that situation makes this more special.”
The Rays scored their runs in the fourth inning James Loney reached on a fielder's choice and Wil Myers and Desmond Jennings drew back-to-back walks.
Escobar, facing Mariners starter Brandon Maurer, fell behind 0-2 in the count before drawing the walk that forced in what proved to be the winning run.
“I was just trying to get the ball up and swing at strikes, and I worked a walk,” Escobar said.
Dominic Leone replaced Maurer and threw the wild pitch that scored Myers.
Zobrist was injured the following inning when he jammed his thumb sliding head first into second while trying to steal the bag.
Maddon said the team will know more about the time frame for Zobrist's return when Zobrist arrives at the clubhouse before tonight's game in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels. If the thumb is not too sore or swollen, Zobrist might only miss a few days. If they feel the thumb needs more time, Zobrist will head to the disabled list and the Rays will turn to Triple A Durham for another infielder, possibly the left-handed hitting Cole Figueroa.
The prospect of playing without their starting second baseman for the near future was not enough to dim the mood as the Rays gathered their belongings and skipped town. Beginning in the fourth inning Monday, the starting pitching allowed only one run while the offense found a way to win a pair of ball games.
The Rays rallied in the ninth inning Tuesday against former closer Fernando Rodney then squeezed out a pair of runs Wednesday.
“It was definitely opportunistic,” Maddon said. “It was definitely parceled out properly and it was definitely enough to get the job done.”