There was something strange going on. Matt Moore was breezing, but he was doing it in precarious fashion. In the first 3 innings of the game, he allowed just a hit-by-pitch to Casey Kotchman. But all of his outs came on flyouts. It was pretty bizarre, but that didn’t matter. The Rays had a 3-0 lead on about a good of a start to the game as we’ve from the Rays this season. B.J. Upton led off with a single against Josh Tomlin before Carlos Pena drilled a 2-run homer, and Luke Scott tripled in a run later in the inning, his first triple since June 10, 2010. And Moore was tossing shutout ball, using just 31 pitches over the first 3 innings. But then everything slowly began to crumble.
The Indians loaded the bases in the 4th against Moore on an Asdrubal Cabrera single and 2 walks. Moore allowed a Jose Lopez sac fly before he was able to escape the jam with a strikeout and yet another flyout. More trouble arose in the 5th inning. After Kotchman struck out to begin the inning, Moore walked Lou Marson before Shin-Soo Choo singled. Cabrera flied out, but then Jason Kipnis grounded an RBI single to pull Cleveland with 3-2. Moore did get Jose Lopez to fly out to end the inning. Moore was removed after a walk to begin the 6th inning. Wade Davis got a double play as part of a shutout inning. Moore went 5+ innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 but walking 5. 51 of his 90 pitches were strikes. His start was downright bizarre. His groundout to flyout ratio was just 0-11. Per Craig Vanderkam in the Rays’ communications department, it was the first time since Tom Gorzelanny on 4/9/11 that a starter forced 11 flyouts and not a single groundout. Even more crazy, he allowed exactly two groundballs, both of which went for singles. Wow. Moore showed an ability to get ahead in the count at times, and although he couldn’t really put away hitters, he got them to put the ball into play weakly in the air. Then his control went, as it has far too often this year. But at least his start ended as far from a disaster with the 2 runs in 5 innings, and hopefully Moore can build off of this.
The Rays manufactured an insurance run in the 6th as Desmond Jennings reached on a force play, stole second base in a very close play, and then scored on a Jose Lobaton RBI single. The Rays bullpen gave its best effort to hold the lead. Coming off 5.2 scoreless on Monday, the Rays bullpen tossed the final 4 innings without allowing a run in this one. Wade Davis, Joel Peralta, and Burke Badenhop combined for 3 perfect innings, striking out 4, and Fernando Rodney closed it out, allowing a single but getting an effortless double play on a little liner right back to him which he caught and then threw to first base for a double play. Rodney got Travis Hafner to fly out to end the game for his 27th save as the Rays won 4-2. Moore (6-6) got the win, while Tomlin (5-6) took the loss. Moore bent but didn’t break, the offense managed some runs, and the bullpen was as good as it gets. All things considered, it was a crisp win. The Rays look to build on this win on Wednesday versus the Indians with Jeremy Hellickson taking on Justin Masterson.