Matt Moore was finally hitting his stride. After fluctuating in and out of control in the first three innings, Moore tossed a perfect frame in the 4th before getting Alcides Escobar to ground out to began the fifth. Then before we knew it, he was out of the game. Moore grimaced on his 2-2 offering to Norichika Aoki, bringing Joe Maddon and the Rays’ medical staff to the mound. They took him out of the game without even seeing a warmup pitch, and we later found out that Moore is dealing with elbow soreness. Luckily, the injury appears to be minor, but the possibility remains that Moore ends up on the disabled list for some period of time.
Moore left down 1-0 as the Rays got almost nothing against Jason Vargas. In the first 5 innings, all they got was an Evan Longoria double in the 2nd, a Desmond Jennings walk in the 3rd, and an Eric Hosmer error in the 5th that allowed Ryan Hanigan to reach. They finally strung together a pair of singles in the 6th, but Vargas stranded them both and the Kansas City Royals teed off against the Rays bullpen in the bottom of the inning. After Cesar Ramos, who replaced Moore, left with 1 on and 1 out, Heath Bell allowed a single to Salvador Perez before striking out Mike Moustakas. Then the Rays got bad luck on a Lorenzo Cain groundball as it was hit so softly that Cain beat it out. Then Bell left a fastball up in the zone to Alcides Escobar, and Escobar drilled a 3-run double to put the game out of reach.
Bell was not done reaping havoc, hitting Omar Infante in the jaw with a pitch to begin the 7th. But you have to give him credit for what he did after that. Bell got a double play and a strikeout to end the bottom of the 7th before allowing just a walk in his shutout 8th. In the end, Bell went 2.2 innings, his most since 10/1/07, as he saved the Rays bullpen and kept them fresh for tomorrow. Bell’s appearance was still a major negative in the game, but you have to give him credit for toughing it out after his initial struggles.
In the 9th, the Rays offense finally put something together as they scored for the first time in two games. Ben Zobrist began the inning with a solo home run to finally end Vargas’ night, and an RBI single by Matt Joyce later in the inning put the tying run at the plate against Royals closer Greg Holland. The comeback ended there, though, as Holland struck out David DeJesus to end the game. Like Bell’s appearance, this was a rough game, but there is reason for optimism after the strong finish. The Rays will hope to get on the winning track tomorrow against Kansas City with Chris Archer taking the mound against hard-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura.