The Tampa Bay Rays’ offense is far from prolific. Perennially among the lower-tier in the American League, the Rays lineup’s inability to push runs across at times drives everyone from pitchers to fans out of their minds and costs the Rays too many games that their pitching could have won them. But to compensate for their inconsistency, the Rays’ hitters have to seize opportunities when they arise. The Rays faced a tough matchup on Monday night against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, and sure enough, Sabathia allowed just 3 hits in his final 6 innings. However, when Sabathia was off early on, the Rays were ready to pounce and won the game for themselves in the process.
Sabathia had struck out Desmond Jennings to begin the game and got ahead 0-2 on Ryan Roberts. But then he hanged a slider and Roberts didn’t miss it, drilling a solo home run. The Rays were far from done. After Evan Longoria lined a two-out single, Sean Rodriguez laced a liner to right that got past Bernnan Boesch for an RBI triple. Then Sabathia left a first-pitch fastball middle-out to Yunel Escobar and Escobar slammed an impressive opposite-field home run to right-center to make it 4-0 Rays. Sabathia was far from his usual ace form early on, missing up in the zone and out over the plate, and the Rays had him on the ropes. They couldn’t finish the job, but the damage was done. Another solo home run by Roberts was all the Rays could get off Sabathia the rest of the game as he went 7 innings allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, striking out 8 while walking 2. You have to give Sabathia credit for battling and saving the Yankees’ bullpen, but the Rays got him early on and that was all they needed with Matt Moore dealing.
After four starts this season, Matt Moore is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA. Unbelievable. Just looking at the numbers, it seems like Moore is becoming an ace before our very eyes. But in this game, he showed that even as he dominates on the whole, he has plenty more to work on. Moore fell behind hitters and had bouts of wildness where it seemed like he was about to come apart. But Moore more than kept it together on his way to another excellent outing, going 8 innings allowing just 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 9 while walking 3. A Robinson Cano homer in the 4th was his only real blemish. Moore labored, tossing 117 pitches, but the Yankees couldn’t dream of hitting him and could only hope that he beat himself. Instead, Moore allowed multiple baserunners in just one inning as he made up for every lapse of focus by going right back to giving hitters fits and gave the Rays the type of outing they believe could become a more common occurrence as he continues his development. Watching Moore deliver an outing like this and realizing that he can be even better has to send a chill down opposing teams’ spines.
The Rays sending Moore and David Price back-to-back simply isn’t fair, but that’s exactly what they’ll do as Price heads to hill on Tuesday against Phil Hughes. The Rays improved to 9-10 on the season with their win tonight, and they will look to head to .500 and beyond having won 5 of their last 6 games and showing no signs of slowing down.