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.
We received this comment earlier, from a lovely chap named Don.
Don K——l says:What kind of fans are there in Tampa. The ball park is half empty for the biggest game of the year!!
I’m not certain where you’re from. Are you from Florida? Are you from the Tampa bay area? Have you driven around our general region and seen the amount of abandoned homes because they were foreclosed on? Have you tried to get a job in our region; a region where the jobless rate is higher than the average jobless rate for Florida and the entire US? If you’re going to speak in platitudes and question the type of fans that we are, then I challenge you to look up the economic statistics of Florida, and more specifically the Tampa Bay region. Perhaps then, you’ll have a better understanding of why we can’t consistently fill the Trop. If anything, the fact that our attendance numbers have dropped with the downturn of the economy speaks volumes. Look, if the citizens of this area, fans or not, do not have as much money to spend on “entertainment” (restaurants, movies, sporting events, etc) then I’d think it to be a fair assumption that they’re not going to be going to as many games, or to them as frequently.
To that end, who the fuck are you to question our fanaticism? We love our team here, and we support our team financially to the best of our abilities. Sometimes though, that means being picky with which games to attend. Certainly there is a faction of “sports fans” that roll in and out with the tide. But most assuredly that’s everywhere! How else can you explain the number of Yankees fans that wear their colors proudly but couldn’t regurgitate a statistic if their lives depended on it?
If all you have is that criticism, then I’ll kindly remind you to bugger off. If you’d like to critically and intelligently discuss baseball in general, and ALL of the factors surrounding our attendance numbers, without implicating us as being shitty & unsupportive fans, then by all means, feel free to respond to this, urm…response. I’ll be waiting.
Now I’ll say this, I’d prefer to focus on the Rays performance on the field at the moment. To that end, I’d prefer to save the critical discussion of the outside issues (stadium, attendance, etc) surrounding the Rays for another time, preferably when the season has come to a close. I feel like these issues are forced on us fans at very inopportune times; at times when we should be focused on the field. However Don, if you’re reading this, we’re on pins and needles for your response.
Tampa Bay Rays (91-71)
Moore (1-0, 2.89)
Of note: A struggling Desmond Jennings is batting in the eight hole today with Sean Rodriguez leading off. Taking the hill for the Rays is rookie pitcher Matt Moore. Though this seems like an unconventional, very Joe Maddon move, consider this: A) The Rangers have no experience against Moore. B) Yes it’s true, the Rangers LOVE fastballs, especially those in the heart of the zone. Moore, however, is very good at locating his pitches because of his very repeatable delivery among other things. C) I wouldn’t be surprised to see Moore throw a lot of fastballs out of the zone setting up his very good breaking pitches.
The Rays have posted their 25 man roster for the ALDS. The roster can be amended after this round.
RH Jeremy Hellickson
LF Matt Moore
LH David Price
RH James Shields
RH Juan Cruz
RH Wade Davis
RH Kyle Farnsworth
RH Brandon Gomes
LH J.P. Howell
LH Jake McGee
RH Joel Peralta
Of note: Dan Johnson, Jeff Niemann, Cesar Ramos, Justin Ruggiano, and Andy Sonnanstine are missing from this round. No Niemann tells me that he may be having health related issues. No Sonny is a good thing. Both Joyce and Fuld are on the roster over Ruggiano because Maddon feels that they are more apt to hit lefties than Moulin Ruggiano. No DanJo because Maddon needed to make room for three catchers. But JP Howell in lieu Cesar Ramos? Hmmm…I don’t know about that move.