After dropping five consecutive games, the Rays got back on the right track Monday night, beating the Pirates by a score of 6-2. The Rays will make the hour and a half trek north today to take on the Phillies in Clearwater.
Matt Moore had another shaky outing Monday night, lasting only 4-2/3 innings and throwing 106 pitches (60 for strikes) in his abbreviated outing. Allowing two runs on six hits, five walks, and a wild pitch — while striking out three — Moore was able to pitch well when his back was against the wall, allowing just two runs. Moore impressively got out of a basses loaded jam with only one out in the first inning without relenting a run.
To be fair though, he was to the one who got into the situation in the first place. Moore noted that he is continuing to struggle in getting a feel for his fastball. Moore, reportedly, isn’t concerned, “it’s there when I need it,” while Joe Maddon noted that the lefty is healthy and a “notoriously slow starter.” However, it would be reasonable to assume that the fears and concerns others may feel are not misplaced. Jeff Niemann will likely be the fifth starter; a pitcher who is very good when he’s on, though we’ve only seen his quality stuff in bursts as of late.
Niemann and Moore are not pitchers that we would consider to be “workhorses” and will, undoubtedly, wear out the the pen if they can’t consistently cull quality outings on a consistent basis. It took Moore well into June to really show what he’s capable of last season. Joe Maddon and Co made the decision to send Chris Archer back to Triple-A, at least to start the season. Far be it from me to question the Rays’ wisdom on that move. However, I can’t help but feel it may have been a bit short sighted at the moment.
Evan Longoria made two errors on the same play, though he ultimately redeemed himself by mashing a two-run blast in the fifth inning, his first of the spring. Ben Zobrist also mashed a two-run blast in the same inning last night, helping the Rays put together a five run fifth. Not to be left out in the cold, Shelley Duncan went yard for the fifth time this spring with a one-run homer.
Roberto Hernandez will make his final bid for the fifth spot on the rotation today. Jeff Niemann pitches tomorrow against the Blue Jays, with the rotation decision expected shortly thereafter. Maddon had nothing but praise for both pitchers, though he gave no indication as to who will be chosen. As they say, only time will tell.
Rays 3/26/13 Starting Lineup:
- The Rays made four more cuts after last night’s game, leaving the roster at 28. Shelley Duncan, Jason Bourgeois and Mike Fontenot were reassigned to minor league camp, while Chris Gimenez was optioned to Triple-A Durham. Though not unexpected, after all Jose Lobaton is out of options, Gimenez seemed to be the obvious choice for backup catcher (at least on paper) after tearing the leather off the ball this spring. Gimenez hit .368 with one home run and five RBI this spring, while Lobaton hit .257 with one home run and five RBI. With this move, Jose Lobaton will be the Rays backup catcher behind Jose Molina.
- The Rays acquired minor-league catcher Curt Casali from the Tigers in exchange for LHP Kyle Lobstein, who had been lost in the Rule 5 draft to the Mets, who then sold him to the Tigers the same day.
- The Rays also option Brandon Gomes back to Triple-A Durham, though Joe Maddon alluded to the fact that he will impact the Rays in some way, shape, or form this season, “He’s going to be such a big part of what we’re going to do this year — and in the future,” Maddon said. “Beyond his skills, this guy is such a great teammate, everybody loves having him there. If you take the Brandon Gomeses of the world, if in fact they don’t make a team coming out of spring training, they will impact, and when their time comes, they stay for a long time.” Gomes, who has had a remarkable spring allowing only two runs in 101/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks, is the odd man out to veteran right-hander Jamey Wright who the Rays had to either release or pay a $100,000 retention bonus to go to the minors. On being optioned to Triple-A, Gomes was quoted as saying, “I knew it was a possibility. I’m obviously not happy about it. But that’s how it goes.”
- By the by, we’ll be live tweeting from the lovely berm area of Brighthouse Networks Field in Clearwater. You can catch our witty synopsis of the game via our Twitter feed, or by looking at the left-hand column of our Tumblr page.