Hopefully, with each passing start, we can continue to say this…but for now, it bears repeating. Matt Moore was sharp yet again, going 7 innings, striking out 8 and allowing just 1 hit, getting his second win against the Marlins, and opposing pitcher Carlos Zambrano, in 6 days. Moore has now earned a win in his last 3 starts, to run his record to 4-5 on the season, after earning just 1 win in his first 10 starts. Moore did not allow a hit, nor a runner in scoring position after the 1st inning. Zambrano ,on the other hand, lasted just 2 innings allowing 4 ER, yielding 6 walks and 3 hits, to a Rays team that would undoubtedly prefer to see him more often, as they’ve touched him up for 11 ER over his last 2 starts in just a shade over 4 innings total. With the loss, Zambrano dropped to 4-5 on the season.
For the Rays, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena walked back to back to start the 2nd, followed by an RBI double by Jose Lobaton scoring Zobrist. Pena and Lobaton would follow suit later, scoring on an RBI single from Desmond Jennings and a bases loaded walk by BJ Upton, respectively, before Hideki Matsui grounded out to 2nd to end the frame, with the Rays putting 3 runs on the board.
Chad Gaudin replaced Zambrano in the 4th, and the Rays tacked on another run with a timely two out hit by Will Rhymes. Following a leadoff single by Zobrist and another walk drawn by Pena (he’d ultimately walk 4 times and score 4 times on the night), Zobrist was caught stealing 3rd, and Pena was fortunate not to get caught going to 2nd on what appeared to be a botched double-steal attempt. Rhymes’s 2-out single scored Pena from 2nd, ahead of an errant throw by Logan Morrison. It was the first of two times on the night that Rhymes would come up big with 2 outs, as he later had an RBI single in the 5th,an inning that also saw Zobrist hit the Rays only home run of the night,a solo shot to right.
The Rays finished their scoring barrage in the 7th, as Pena and Lobaton drew back to back 2 out walks, knocking Gaudin from the game, who was replaced by Sandy Rosario. From there, Sean Rodriguez, inserted into the game at 3B earlier for defensive purposes, ripped an RBI single to left scoring Pena. Following a single by Elliot Johnson which advanced the runners, Desmond Jennings cleared the bases with a double, giving him 4 RBI on the night, and summarily scoring the 11th Rays run on a Matt Joyce single.
Burke Badenhop would come on in relief of Moore in the 8th, and retired the Marlins in order. Brandon Gomes, just recalled from Durham, struck out the side in the 9th following a leadoff walk, preserving the 1 hit, combined 11-0 shutout win for the Rays. The victory snaps a 3 game losing skid after an ugly sweep at the hands of the Mets, giving the Rays a 36-28 mark on the season, 2.5 games back of the Yankees (38-25) and 1 behind the Orioles (37-27), in the AL East. The Marlins loss is their 3rd straight and 9th in their last 10, including 4 losses to the Rays. Miami’s loss drops them back to .500 (32-32) on the season. Tampa Bay will send James Shields to the mound on Saturday, opposing Anibal Sanchez, in a rematch of last Sunday’s pitching matchup, a game won by the Rays, 4-2.
Notes: The victory Friday ensures the Rays taking the annual 6 game Citrus Series from the Marlins for the 2nd straight season, and gave them their 8th consecutive win overall in the head to head series. The 11 runs scored by the Rays is a season high at home (previously 8, vs NYY, TOR, and BAL, once each), and the first time scoring double-digits at home since 8/17/2010 (10, vs TEX).