The Rays will welcome the Red Sox into the Trop Monday, starting a three game set against their AL East rivals. This series, as with the previous series against the Orioles, promises to be an important one — Tampa Bay stands to make up at least a game against the AL East leading Red Sox. Just a few notes on Sunday’s game before we focus our attention on the upcoming series.
First, I won’t bore you with a complete game summary. You can check out my thoughts and observations of the game via our Tumblr page, where I live blogged the game from section 143 at the Trop.
Secondly, Matty Moore has dropped his second consecutive start. Win number nine has now eluded him in four starts — that is if you count the rain delayed game in Cleveland. Nevertheless, Moore missed handily with his fastball Sunday, throwing only 13 for strikes. I walked around the concourse at the Trop (editors note: Fatboy needed a slaw-dog and a soda), listening to Dave and Andy’s call of the game. One thing struck me. On the subject of Matt Moore’s breaking pitches, it was noted “If he doesn’t use it, he’ll lose it.” I suspect this could be a culprit: He was relatively rusty and became too predictable. Granted Moore was quite effective with his off-speed pitches, throwing his curveball for strikes 73% of the time, and his change-up for strikes almost 82% of the time. He however wasn’t able to throw quality strikes, leaving his pitches in very hittable spots within the zone. There’s also the thought that the league has finally adjusted to Moore, and he needs to adjust in kind. Alex Cobb was able to make the adjustment after getting beaten up by the Royals at the end of April, and the results speak for themselves. It’s now Moore’s turn.
Lastly, god bless the Rays offense. After scoring a run in every other inning, they were able to make the game interesting by scoring four runs late in the game, ultimately getting within three runs of the Orioles. Sunday’s loss was directly attributed to Matt Moore. From the offensive point of view, they should have won. Moving Forward.
The Red Sox are hot at the moment, having won six of eight after taking two of three at home against the Angels over the weekend. Then again so are the Rays, who’ve won 10 of their last 15 games.
John Lackey: Per Rotowire, “Lackey’s string of consistent starts has a lot to do with finding the strike zone with his fastball, the Boston Herald reports. In Wednesday night’s start, Lackey threw 75 of his 108 pitches (69.6 percent) for strikes.” Lackey’s gone 3-6 with a 7.55 ERA in his last nine starts against Tampa Bay, dating to 2009. Boston has won five of six meetings with the Rays this year, with Lackey suffering the lone defeat after giving up five runs in 4-1/3 innings of a 5-3 loss May 14. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (7-13, 2 2B, RBI, 2 BB), Matt Joyce (5-15, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB), James Loney (4-13, 2B, HR, 3 RBI), Evan Longoria (8-28, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB), Sean Rodriguez (2-5), Luke Scott (7-18, 4 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB), Ben Zobrist (8-23, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 5 BB).
Jon Lester: Per Rotowire, “Lester allowed four runs on six hits and four walks while striking out five in Boston’s loss to the Yankees on Friday. He continues a three-game funk that’s seen him give up 14 runs (13 earned) on 23 hits and eight walks in 19.1 innings.” The Rays haven’t had much success against Lester this year, tagging him for only three runs in 14 innings of work. Furthermore, Lester has been good this year, giving up four or more runs in only four of his 13 starts. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (9-29, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB), Desmond Jennings (6-19, 2 2B, 3B, RBI, BB), Matt Joyce (2-5, HR, 4 RBI, BB), James Loney (1-3), Jose Molina (7-21, 2 BB), Ryan Roberts (3-8).
- David Ortiz has homered in three of his last four games, and has batted .353 with 14 RBIs in his last 15 contests against the Rays.
- As of Sunday, the Red Sox hitters led the majors with 4.07 pitches seen per plate appearance. Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia lead the list, ranking 1-2.
- Per Marc Topkin, “The Sox have the league’s best record — 39-25 — and are the only AL team to be above .500 all season. They lead MLB in runs, doubles and on-base percentage and have a plus-80 run differential.”
- Boston is 5-1 against the Rays this season. They lead the series overall 155-110, while going 69-64 at the Trop.