Wednesday was just the second time in Mark Buehrle‘s career that he struck out 10 batters in a game. Unlike a few years ago, Buehrle did not toss a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays, but they could barely get anything against him all games. Thanks to sharp-breaking curveballs and changeups that froze the Rays time after time, Buehrle went 8.2 innings allowing just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 11. Buehrle was on his game, and helpless is the best word to describe the Rays’ offense against him.
On the other side, Matt Moore did fine. The Toronto Blue Jays got him for 2 runs in the 4th on a Jose Bautista solo home run and a Dioner Navarro RBI single, but that was all he allowed in his 5.2 innings of work. His fastball velocity was not ideal–he touched 95 MPH a couple of times but was mostly 91-93 MPH–but he managed to work around 3 walks and 6 hits with 4 strikeouts as he delivered a solid outing. After Moore, Brandon Gomes had a bizarre appearance where he intentionally walked pinch-hitter Adam Lind before departing. Jake McGee forced Melky Cabrera to fly out to get off of the 6th.
In terms of the rest of the game, Josh Lueke allowed another Bautista homer in the 7th, Heath Bell looked very good in the 8th, and Grant Balfour battled around two baserunners to keep the Jays from getting any more runs in the final frame. The Rays’ pitchers were not the issue here–the problem was Mark Buehrle keeping the bats quiet. Logan Forsythe went 2 for 3 with a double, seemingly being the only Rays hitter who had any idea what was happening against Buehrle. He is on this team to hit lefties, and he showed nice signs of doing that in this game. Pinch-hitting for Forsythe in the 9th, however, was Matt Joyce as the tying run. But after the Jays brought in left Brett Cecil, Joyce flailed at 3 of Cecil’s 4 pitches to end the game. Joyce hit a 3-run home run off Felix Doubront in the spring, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and think he can hit lefties, especially high-quality ones like Cecil.
One other highlight was Evan Longoria, who went 1 for 3 with a walk and made a couple of outstanding defensive plays. In the first inning, Moore faced two runners on with two outs and allowed a groundball to Dioner Navarro that bounced off the third base bag. But Longoria stayed with it and stepped on second base just before Melky Cabrera got there to help Moore escape. Longoria has looked relatively good to begin the year, but the Rays need to find more consistent offense as they hope to get back on the winning track. Chris Archer will take on Brandon Morrow at 7:10 PM on Thursday night as the Rays hope to end their season-opening series with a split.