In one corner, there was Matt Moore, who had been one of the best pitchers in the American League during the month of April, going 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA. In the other corner, the pitching graveyard known as Coors Field. It was sure to be an interesting night.
Moore did not fare well from the beginning, as he gave up a two run home run to Michael Cuddyer in the first inning to give the Rockies a quick 2-0 lead. Colorado extended the lead an inning later, as Josh Rutledge led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run. Down 3-0, it seemed as though the Rays may be in trouble.
However, they came back against Rockies starter Jeff Francis. Jose Lobaton led off the third with an infield hit, and came around to score on a double by Ryan Roberts. Roberts was driven in by Ben Zobrist, cutting the Rockies lead to 3-2. Colorado had a chance to extend the lead in the bottom of the fourth, putting runners on second and third with one out, but Moore struck out Jordan Pacheco and Carlos Gonzalez to end the threat.
The Rays took the lead in the top of the fifth, as Desmond Jennings hit a laser to center, giving the Rays a 4-3 lead. Unfortunately, Moore was unable to keep the Rockies off the board in the bottom half of the frame, as Nolan Arenado‘s RBI double tied the game back up. For the game, Moore gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks in his five innings of work, striking out three batters. Of the 26 batters he faced, he only threw a first pitch strike to 10 of them, and he allowed at least two baserunners each inning. Hopefully, he can put this start behind him, and get back to the form he displayed earlier in the month.
With Francis also being knocked out of the game, this became a battle of the bullpens. The Rays had the first chance to retake the lead, with runners on first and third and one out, but Kelly Johnson grounded to the mound, causing Evan Longoria to be thrown out at the plate. Colorado then had a chance to go ahead in the bottom of the inning, putting runners on first and third against Jake McGee, with Troy Tulowitzki coming to the plate as a pinch hitter. Ever a team willing to do the unexpected, the Rays intentionally walked Tulowitzki to load the bases. The unconventional moved worked, as McGee struck out Eric Young Jr, and Brandon Gomes struck out Pacheco to end the threat.
The game went into the tenth, and the Rays offense took charge. Zobrist doubled to start off the inning, and came in to score on Longoria’s base hit. One batter later, Kelly Johnson lined a home run to right to put the Rays ahead 7-4. Fernando Rodney came in to close the game out, and gave up a leadoff single. With two outs, former Ray Reid Brignac hit a pinch hit single to put runners on first and third. Brignac moved up to second, but Rodney was able to get out of the jam by striking out Young to end the game.
Even though Moore had a rough start, the bullpen managed to pitch five scoreless innings. While it was not always comfortable, they managed to escape unscathed. Perhaps getting out of those jams and getting the win can provide the confidence boost that the bullpen seems to be in need of.
Lobaton had a big night for the Rays, going 3-5 with a double and two runs scored. Zobrist was 2-4 with two doubles, an RBI, a walk and a run scored.