It may have not been the offensive outburst of the previous night, however the Tampa Bay Rays, with Matt Moore at the helm, beat the Chicago White Sox by a score of 3-0 Saturday at the Trop. He may not have been perfect, but Moore did just enough to stifle a sluggish White Sox offense, making the big pitches when necessary over the course of his 6-1/3 inning outing. There’s just something about Matt Moore… At least the 2013 model — things don’t seem to phase him. Case in point, a nerve racking pair of innings in which the White Sox could have broken the game open, but didn’t.
In both the second and third innings, the White Sox had opportunities to plate a handful of runs with runners on third. Yet Moore came out unscathed, thanks to a Tyler Flowers two out pop-out in the second, and a stellar double play turned by Evan Longoria, preceding an Adam Dunn fly-out to left-center to end the inning. Longoria snagged a line drive off the bat of Alex Rios, then dove back to the bag ahead of Alejandro De Aza.
There just seems to be a zen nature about Moore. He missed handily with his two-seam fastball (20 thrown, nine for strikes, one whiff) and his slider (13 thrown, seven for strikes), so he made the adjustment and relied upon his four-seam fastball (38 thrown, 25 for strikes, four whiffs) and his change-up (34 thrown, 22 for strikes, eight whiffs) with great effect. Moore didn’t shirk away from contact, rather he attacked the White Sox batters and the results speak for themselves. My personal favorite Moore moment came in the first inning, when he struck out Adam Dunn. Moore threw two consecutive change-ups to get ahead in the count. He followed those pitches with a fastball up in the zone, only to come back with a deadly change-up to wring up the Big Donkey.
Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney came in for 2-2/3 innings of one hit, three strikeout ball. McGee impressively induced a one out double play on one pitch to get out of the inning. Peralta allowed the sole hit of those 2-2/3 innings, though he was able to work around the base hit and came out with a clean inning. Rodney was Rodney, retiring the side in order to get his 19th save of the year.
Offensively speaking, the Rays struck three times in the second and sixth innings. Tampa Bay scored a pair of runs in the second on a Luke Scott RBI double, and a Desmond Jennings fielders choice. Sam Fuld tacked on an insurance run in the sixth inning, plating Wil Myers on an RBI base hit to center. Let’s be honest, we all knew that Sale would be tough, and tough he was.
The New What Next
David Price will attempt to replicate his return appearance last week, in a start against John Danks and the Sox. You can read about the pitching match-up here. The Rays start the day with a 48-40 record, a half game behind the the Yankees and tied for third with the Orioles. If the Rays and the Orioles win today, both teams will be tied for second going into the pre All-Star Break stretch.
Rays 7/7/13 Starting Lineup
- Ben Zobrist has been tapped to represent the Rays in the 2013 All-Star Game. Per Marc Topkin, another potential opening for Moore to be added to AL All-Star team – Iwakuma from the Mariners is slated to start next Sunday.
- Interestingly, per Marc Topkin, “With no Rays voted in by fans or players, it was up to AL/Detroit manager Jim Leyland to pick a Tampa Bay representative. Leyland bypassed third baseman Evan Longoria and starter Matt Moore to pick Zobrist, whose versatility at the plate and on the field makes him a bench asset.” Zobrist responded by saying, “I find a lot of humor in the selection based on that. I can’t wait to talk to Mr. Leyland and thank him for a couple different things.”