Rays hope to avoid Orioles' brooms

(SportsNetwork.com) - Right-hander Jake Odorizzi gets the call for the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday when they try to avoid a season-opening three game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.

In his first full season in the big leagues last year Odorizzi went 11-13 with a 4.13 ERA. However, he did strike out 174 batters over 168 innings and his 98.32 strikeouts per nine innings were more than any other qualified rookie starter.

Odorizzi's strikeouts numbers could improve this season after adding a cutter to his repertoire this spring.

The 25-year-old hurler went 2-6 with a 5.32 ERA in his first 12 starts last season, but closed the year 9-7 with 3.51 ERA in 19 outings after that.

Baltimore, meanwhile, will give the ball to righty Miguel Gonzalez, who was 10-9 last season with a 3.25 ERA. Gonzalez, though, has thrived at the Trop, where he is 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in five starts.

Baltimore has opened defense of its AL East crown with a pair of wins, as Steve Pearce and Adam Jones each had two RBI to stake the Orioles to a big early lead then they held on for a 6-5 victory on Tuesday.

Pearce finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Zach Britton notched his first save of 2015 by striking out the side in the ninth.

Kevin Gausman (1-0) received the win with 2 1/3 innings in relief of a shaky Wei-Yin Chen, despite surrendering a two-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier in the bottom of the sixth that cut the lead to 6-5.

Logan Forsythe also had a two-run shot for Tampa Bay, with Kiermaier going 2- for-4 with two runs scored.

Karns (0-1), bumped up in the Rays' rotation due to spring injuries to Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly, overcame his rough beginning to throw 5 2/3 innings.

Baltimore won 12 of its 19 matchups with the Rays last season.