There was a lot to like about the outcome of Wednesday’s game: The offense again showed signs of life, scoring more than four runs in a game for the first time since April 6th when they beat Cleveland by a score of 4-0. The Rays scored more runs Wednesday than they had in the three previous games. Matt Moore was also excellent, giving up just two runs in 6-2/3 innings of work.
Whether the two game offensive outbreak is a sign of things to come, or just a blip on the radar, fails to be seen. As the old adage goes, hitting is contagious. If that holds true, this could be a very good sign for the Rays and their sputtering offense. Me? I’m cautiously optimistic.
Matt Moore continued to be impressive after a slow (and frankly worrisome) spring. Posting a 6-2/3 IP/5 H/2 R/2 ER/3 BB/7 K/1 HR slash line Wednesday, Moore continued to show growth from his previous outing. What’s scary — at least what should be to his opponents, that is — is that Moore, though good in his last three starts, hasn’t fully shown what he’s capable of. Think about how dangerous he will be if he continues down this path.
Moore threw 104 pitches (67 for strikes, 64% K/BB) in his six and two-thirds of an inning outing. And though he had a few 20 plus pitch innings, he never really got himself into any jams that would require that big pitch. He did have some concerns locating his fastball (56 fastballs, 33 for strikes, 58.93% K/BB), though he made the proper adjustment and leaned on his off-speed stuff , throwing 30 sliders (20 for strikes, 66% K/BB) and inducing weakly hit balls for outs.
With the exception of a handful of long innings and the mistake that Adam Jones went yard with, Moore was outstanding. Taking into consideration that Moore is a notoriously slow starter, I find it rather impressive that he has become one of the stabilizing forces in the starting rotation this early into the season.
The offense didn’t look too shabby either. The Rays were able to beat up on Chris Tillman and the O’s, scoring six runs on 11 hits, thanks to a few of the quieter bats in the lineup. With the exception of homers by Kelly Johnson and Shelly Duncan, Tampa Bay was effective in driving in runs on singles and doubles — something that was expected out of this lineup going into the 2013 season. The Rays ultimately went 4-11 wRISP.
Kelly Johnson had another good day at the plate, going 2-5 with a run and an RBI. The Big Dog (you know, from WDAE) questioned why Joe Maddon would put Johnson in the two-hole going into Tuesday night’s game. Johnson is now 3-6 with two homers, a pair of RBI’s, and a pair of walks in the last two games. I’d reckon that Maddon’s move has worked with some quantifiable success. Gee Mr. Dog, I suppose that’s why Maddon is the manager of a professional baseball team, and you’re an afternoon AM sports talk radio host that can’t get a contract extension. I digress…”
Not to be outdone, Shelley Duncan went 2-3 with two runs, an RBI and a homer. James Loney played the part of doubles masher, going 3-3 with a pair of two-base hits and three runs batted in. Hell, even Yunel Escobar got in on the action, going 1-3 with an RBI.
The New What Next
The Rays will try to take their second series of the season Thursday night with David Price on the mound. Price is still looking for his first win of the season following a solid start against the Red Sox Saturday. He’ll toe the rubber against Miguel Gonzalez who’s made six career starts against the Rays. Price is 3-0 with a 2.54 ERA in six career starts at Camden Yards. The current Orioles are hitting .230 with a .602 OPS against him in 192 plate appearances, with one home run. Gonzalez limited Tampa Bay to two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings in his April 4th start at the Trop. in his last start against the Yankees, Gonzalez scuffled with his control, walking five in six innings.
Rays 4/18/13 Starting Lineup:
- Believe it or not, the Rays have the same batting order for second straight game. There have been several position changes though. Kelly Johnson will be in left-field, moving Matt Joyce to right-field. Ben Zobrist will transition down to second base.
- Rays prospect Wil Myers Wil Myers was removed from a Durham Bulls game because he fouled ball of his foot. Myers incurred a right foot contusion, and is listed as day to day.