The Rays took the second game of a three game set against the Blue Jays Tuesday, on a very stormy night in St. Petersburg. With the sound of thunder echoing inside a 2/3 empty Tropicana Field, the Rays — led by Matt Moore — lowered a 5-1 boom of their own on the hottest team in baseball, scoring runs in the second, fourth, and seventh innings, while stifling a Blue Jays team who could get runners on, but couldn’t get them over and home.
Prior to Tuesday night’s game, Rays’ starters hadn’t posted (at least) three consecutive quality starts since April. And as of the third inning, it looked as though Matt Moore wouldn’t even make it to the fourth inning, after he loaded the bases with only one out. Moore faced a growth moment. The Rays lefty not only got out of the inning unscathed after striking out Rajai Davis and Colby Rasmus, he also went on to pitch three more innings while wringing up five more Jays along the way.
Moore’s control was awful at times, however he was dominant when he was able to regain it. Allowing seven base runners on two singles and five walks in the front three innings alone, Moore walked six Jays overall. He also struck out 11 and made big pitches in the third and sixth innings, when Toronto was threatening with runners in scoring position.
Moore varied his velocity, throwing fastballs as slow as 90 mph — though with a lot of movement — and the Blue Jays simply couldn’t hit them. He ultimately mixed his pitches well — hitting his spots — and the rest is history. Moore’s breakout: two-seam fastball (38 total/23 for strikes/4 whiffs), four-seam fastball (42 total/23 for strikes/9 whiffs), Change-up (15 total/eight for strikes/2 whiffs), slider (25 total/16 for strikes/7 whiffs).
Offensively speaking, Tampa Bay seemed perfectly comfortable against Mark Buehrle, tagging him for four runs on eight hits (seven singles) and four walks.
James Loney singled with one out in the second inning, ultimately advancing to second on a wild pitch. Jose Molina followed that up by walking. With two on and two outs, Desmond Jennings hit a well struck single to left field, plating Loney and knotting the game at one apiece. The Rays would go on to score three more runs fourth inning.
Jose Molina walked to open the inning, while Kelly Johnson was hit by a pitch to put a runner in scoring position with no outs. Jennings followed that with another single, consequently loading the bases and setting the stage for a special play at the plate. Sean Rodriguez hit a fly ball fairly deep to right field and Molina tagged, running as though a bear was chasing him from behind. Jose Bautista fired a strike home, by all accounts beating Molina to the plate. At this point things got a bit cloudy — after all, the outfield isn’t necessarily the most conducive location to see the intricacies of a play at the plate. I’ll leave this part to Ian Malinowski of DRaysBay,
“Molina is apparently trickier than he looks. He ran to the outside of the baseline, kept his left side back, and reached over the tag with his right arm to touch the base, safe.
John Gibbons came out to argue, but the call was correct, and Bautista looked decidedly unamused. Both runners were able to advance on his ambitious throw, and both would come around to score, on a sacrifice and a single.”
Tampa Bay would tack on an insurance run in the seventh inning, following a James Loney and Yunel Escobar double steal to move into scoring position. It should be noted that this wiped the slate clean of a triple-play threat with Molina at the plate. Malinowski went on to mention in his account of the game,
“Molina grounded straight to Encarnacion at third. Brian Anderson revealed that Rick Odioso, the statistician in the booth for the broadcast, pointed out that the double steal may have kept the Rays out of a triple play. He was absolutely right. With Loney at first and Molina running, I’ll go so far as to call it a probably triple play.”
Escobar would score on a softly hit Kelly Johnson ground-out to second.
The New What Next
The Rays will go for the sweep with Roberto Hernandez on the mound. Robo will share the rubber with knuckle-baller RA Dickey. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 6/26/13 Starting Lineup