In lieu of the many Moore’isms that are currently flooding the internet, I’m going to shy away from saying things like, “That was great, give me some Moore.” Now that I’ve cleared the air with that, that’s a hell of a way to start the ALDS, innit?!? Let’s talk about that a little, shall we.
Where to start?
I suppose the pitching side of things is as good as any! Three pitchers, eight strikeouts, two hits, two walks, and a big goose egg! In short, that sums things up nicely. Nevertheless, let’s break it down a little more. There were a few (read: many) doubters when it came to Joe Maddon’s choice to go with a rookie with only one major league start under his belt. I think Moore’s stunning pitching performance is more than enough to silence those critics though. Moore, over the course of seven innings, gave up no runs, two hits (both to Josh Hamilton), two walks, and induced six K’s. Matt’s well placed pitches we able to induce many infield ground outs and outfield pop outs. Impressive too, the Rangers were not able to move over the few runners that they had on the base paths. Moore effectively shut down the powerhouse that is the Rangers.
The graph and charts below are telling. Relying primarily on his four seem fastball, Moore was able to pound the strike zone. Relying on his fastball, 74 four seam and two two-seam fastball’s to be exact (50 for called strikes*), Moore consistently fed the Rangers what they typically gobble up. Yet, with the exception of Hamilton, they were not able to do anything with those pitches beyond grounding and popping out. To be fair, that’s a huge credit to the fielding of the Rays behind him too.
Moore was followed by Brandon Gomes and Wade Davis in the eighth and ninth innings respectively. Both Games and Davis pitched two perfect innings, with Gomes inducing two swinging strikeouts of Murphey and Kinsler.
On the other side of things, Tampa Bay was able to do something that they really haven’t been able to do: beat up on CJ Wilson early, knocking him out of the game after only five innings. In those five innings, the Rays scored eight runs (six earned) on seven hits and one walk. Three of those hits were home runs which accounted for six of the nine Rays runs.
Wilson hit Ben Zobrist with a pitch to start off the Rays half of the second inning. Damon, who followed Zobrist, sent a misplaced Wilson meatball into the right field stands. A very hot Kelly Shoppach followed by hitting a single. Shoppach (3-4, with a single and two HR…I know, right!) followed Damon by smacking a single to left center. Shoppach moved over to second on a Casey Kotchman ground out and was driven home on a Matt Joyce single to right.
Wilson got himself into trouble again in the top of the third. After a BJ Upton strikout, Evan Longoria singled to center and was moved over to second by a Zobrist bunt single. With two on and two out, Shoppach sent a three run blast to deep center. Holy Shop!
Note: I said I’d refrain from the Moore’isms not Shopp’isms!
Already down 6-0 in the fifth, Wilson gave up another blast to Shoppach. You’ve got to be Shopping me! Damon reached first on a Rangers throwing error. Kelly sent a hanging breaking pitch to left in his next at bat, scoring Damon. Truly mind-boggling, Shop has gone yard four times in the last week. For once that swing for the fences swing is paying off! With Matt Harrison on the mound, Tampa Bay was able to score one more insurance run in the ninth on a on a Johnny hustle infield single scoring BJ Upton with two on.
The Rays were able to consistently pounce on Rangers mistakes, both pitching and otherwise. They were also able to effectively drive home runners in scoring position, leaving six on base all night.
JoeMa has tapped “Complete Game” James Shields (16-12, 2.82 ERA) for the start tonight against Texas starter, Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95 ERA). Holland got a no decision in his last start against Tampa Bay back on September 7 at the Trop. The Rays won that game 5-4 on a 10th inning, on a one run walk off dinger by Desmond Jennings. Holland went 6.2 innings and gave up three runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out nine.
Holland depends mainly on his mid 90’s fastball, He is prone to giving up the long-ball thought, having given up 22 of them this year. Also, with a .262 OBA and a 3.95 ERA, Holland is prone to giving up hits and runs.The Rays will need to exploit any Derek Holland mistakes to the fullest.
Shields is the best candidate to shut down the Rangers. But with very little run support (less than three runs) on the Rays behalf, Tampa Bay will need to hammer the Rangers early like they did last night. Again, they will need to pounce on Holland like they did to Wilson. Sure, a goose egg on only two hits was wonderful, but we cannot assume that the same thing will happen today. Five runs is the magic number for the Rays who have gone 30-0 when they score five runs or more. Tampa Bay will need to get at least that many against this very dangerous Rangers lineup if they are to win today. The starting lineups will be posted as they become available. As always, Go Rays!
*The plate umpire called many pitches lower in the zone balls, when they were really strikes. See the strikezone plot.