Game 69: Moore Inconsistent, Peralta Ends With a Downer as Rays Drop Series to Nats

By Robbie Knopf

Joel Peralta may be going away for 8 games after Thursday’s game. If Thursday was his last appearance, he did not exactly end us with a great showing.

You love to play nice, crisp games. This was not one of those. The Rays jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning against Gio Gonzalez on a 2-out Desmond Jennings single but left the bases loaded. Matt Moore then stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning. But Moore allowed 2 runs in the bottom of the third inning despite just 1 hit thanks to 3 walks and some crafty baserunning by the Nationals including a double steal, Danny Espinosa scoring on a sac fly to shallow center, and Ian Desmond going to 2nd base as the Rays forgot to call time. Moore and the Rays were almost lucky to allow just 2 runs in the inning. It was not pretty to watch. Moore wound up going 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 4. He threw 93 pitches including 61 in just the second and third innings before getting lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 6th inning.

In the 6th, Ben Zobrist scored on a Sean Rodriguez RBI single to tie the game but the Rays left two runners on when Elliot Johnson, pinch-hitting for Moore, struck out. With Moore out of the game, Joel Peralta entered the game and got two quick out. But Jesus Flores doubled, and after Adam LaRoche was walked intentionally, Danny Espinosa drilled a 2-run double to give the Nationals a 4-2 lead. After the Rays stranded the bases loaded in the 7th against a couple of Nats relievers, Roger Bernadina doubled home another run off of Wade Davis to give the Nats a 5-2 lead. Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard retired the Rays in order in the 8th and 9th as the Nationals won by the 5-2 score to clinch 2 out of 3 in the series. Gonzalez (9-3) got the win, while Peralta (0-3) took the loss, and Clippard earned his 11th save. Matt Moore allowed just two runs but completely lost control, leading to a shortened outing that forced the Rays to go to the bullpen faster than they would have liked, and may have made the difference. The Rays offense couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities, leaving 10 men on base, and the bullpen had to be sharp to keep the Rays in the game and could not do the job. The Rays leave Washington having lost a series that had a serious chance to sweep and will head to the last-place Phillies (who thought we would ever say that?) for their next Interleague set. It’s a rematch of the 2008 World Series, but with the Rays a much better team that the Phillies right now they have to execute and get back on track.