It was a year ago next week that Matt Moore made his first major league start. He made his starting debut under no ordinary pretenses- the Rays had lost 3 in a row to the Yankees and were 2 and a half games back of the Wild Card-leading Red Sox with just 7 games left to play (Boston had 6 games left). The Rays desperately needed a strong start from Moore. And he delivered. Moore went 5 innings allowing no runs on 4 hits, striking out an incredible 11 while walking just 1. It was 84 pitches of pure mastery before Joe Maddon took him out in case the Rays needed to use him in relief the rest of the season. He became the first pitcher in history to strike out 10 or more New York Yankees in under 6 innings of work and just the 7th to strike out 10 or more Yankees in 6 or less innings of work. Moore gave the Rays exactly what they needed to come away with a huge win, and starting with that game, they went 6-1 the rest of the season as they overtook the Red Sox for the Wild Card. And Moore’s next start came in Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Rangers, where he tossed 7 shutout innings. A performance like that resonates all around. The Rays don’t need Moore to go out and strike out everyone today. But the Rays need him to give the Yankees everything he has and lead them to a season-changing victory.
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