With one week left until Opening Day, the Rays’ bats proved Monday night that they are ready to take on the 2013 season. A trio of homeruns lifted the Rays to a 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, snapping a five-game losing streak for Tampa Bay.
While struggling with his command throughout the spring, Rays pitcher Matt Moore continued to do so during his fourth start, walking two batters in the first inning. The Pirates continued to benefit from Moore’s shaky start as he gave up a RBI-double to Russell Martin in the second inning. However, Tampa Bay’s Shelley Duncan retaliated with a solo shot to left field later in the inning off of the Pirates’ Kyle McPherson, tying the game at 1-1.
Moore began the third inning by walking Gaby Sanchez, who eventually scored from Josh Harrison’s single, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead. But Moore began to sound like a broken record as he walked two more batters in the fourth inning before Brandon Gomes replaced him in the following inning.
It was time for the Rays to step up and deliver some action as Jose Molina began the bottom of the fifth inning by drawing a walk. Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homerun, followed by a single from Matt Joyce. It did not take long for Evan Longoria to remind the crowd why they love him, as he lifted a two-run homer over left field, putting the Rays up 6-2. It was Longoria’s first homerun of the spring.
The Rays’ bullpen kept up the hearty efforts of their teammates as Brandon Gomes dazzled in the sixth inning, delivering two strikes and giving up no runs in the 1.1 innings he pitched. Reliever Joel Peralta had an impressive outing, racking up 5 K’s and giving up 1 hit during 2 innings. The Rays pitching staff had a total of 10 strikeouts and 8 hits, while the Pirates gave up 9 hits and 7 strikeouts.
While Moore showed improvement in the simulated game he threw last Thursday after a rainout in the Rays-Twins game on Wednesday, his command was missing again Monday night. Moore gave up 6 hits, 2 runs, and 5 walks to the Pirates, while fanning 3 in 4.2 innings. He has thrown a total of 15 strikeouts and 13 walks in over 16 innings this spring, and the Rays continue to believe that Moore will work out the issues with his command and deliver solid performances once the regular season begins. Moore is projected to pitch third in the Rays’ starting rotation, with CY Young Award winner David Price named as the Rays’ starter for Opening Day against the Baltimore Orioles.