Today is April 10th. This afternoon, the Rays are scheduled to play their just their 9th game of the season versus the Rangers. The season just began and we have absolutely no idea how things will turn out for the Rays this season.But all of that being said, the Rays really want this game. The last three days have been a total disaster. First, the Rays finished what had been a great series versus the Indians by getting destroyed 13-0. The next day was the infamous Marty Foster game. And then last night, the Rays came up flat once again as they lost 6-1 to the Rangers. The Rays have lost 3 in a row, seeing their record on the season drop from 3-2 to 3-5, and they have to find a way to salvage the final game of their series with the Rangers. If they don’t, all hope is not lost, but the Rays are desperate to turn this around and have to make that happen now.
David Price was horrific. Jeremy Hellickson battled but didn’t give the Rays much. Roberto Hernandez had good stuff but terrible luck. Who does that leave? Matt Moore, the lefty with all the talent in the world but still plenty he needs to do to become that ace-team pitcher he has the ability to be. Last time out, Moore dominated the Cleveland Indians, going 6 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 8 while walking 2. He was locked in and giving hitters fits and the Rays need him to deliver similar results again. Someday, maybe soon, Moore could be the stopper the Rays are asking him to be right now on a consistent basis. But for today, the Rays simply need Moore to harness his potential and deliver another incredible outing.
Moore returns to Texas, the place where he first showed the world just how good he can be. Taking on the eventual AL champion Rangers in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS in just his second major league start, Moore went 7 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6. Moore was only starting Game 1 because the Rays were scrambling for starting pitchers as their fight with the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card spot went right down to the wire. He was there be coincidence alone. When he made that start, though, it just looked natural. He looked like that ace, that pitcher every team in baseball wish they had going in Game 1 of a playoff series. In his rookie season, Moore demonstrated that his performance in that game was but a brief flash of greatness as he continues to work on his development. That start was a harbinger of things to come, but not things that would arrive immediately. Right now, though, the Rays need Moore to deliver something as close as possible to that. History is on his side, from his previous effort at Rangers Ball Park in Arlington to his first outing of the 2013 season, and everyone knows he has the talent. The Rays need the stars to align once again. Today, the Rays are counting on Matt Moore to be that pitcher who can take the mound and turn his entire team around and deliver one more transient glimpse of just how good he’s going to be.