Rays Notes: Matt Moore, David Price, Starting to Look Back, B.J. Upton


Matt Moore finally was able to get back on track on track on Saturday, throwing 5.1 shutout innings allowing just 1 hit, and he could not have picked a better time to get on track as the Rays need every win they can get right now. Moore was pulled out by Joe Maddon after just 77 pitches. Why? Because the Rays might need to use Moore in relief during their series with the Orioles should an extra-inning game happen. The Rays used the same logic at the end of last season. In any event, along the way Moore did something special, breaking the Rays’ rookie strikeout record of 174 that was held by Scott Kazmir with his 175th strikeout of the season. Marc Topkin also notes that Moore’s now 176 strikeouts are the most in baseball in the last 125 years by any “true rookie” pitcher, excluding Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka who were established pitchers in Japan before they came to the States. Topkin also had this funny quote from catcher Chris Giminez.

"“I looked up there and I was like, ‘Oh, crap, we have a no-hitter going.”"

Immediately after, Moore gave up his first hit. Come on, Chris! I would not have been surprised if Maddon pulled Moore for the reason above even if he was throwing a no-hitter through 6 innings, but it definitely would have been a tougher call.

Fellow Rays lefty David Price goes for his 20th win on Sunday and has exactly the right mindset.

"LHP David Price admits he will take the mound today with a specific milestone in mind: getting the Rays’ 88th win.And if in doing so he gets his 20th, well, that would be even better.“It’s pretty special,” Price said. “I would love to get to that mark, and not a whole lot of guys get to get there. It would be good for me, it would be good for the organization. I know this team wants me to get there.”"

Do the Rays want Price to win the AL Cy Young Award? The answer seems like an obvious and emphatic “yes,” but in reality, you can definitely make the argument for the other side. Price will arbitration eligible this offseason, and if he is awarded the Cy Young, that’s only going to add another couple of millions to his 2013 contract. But at this point, Price has done well enough that he’s probably going to get something closer to what he’s worth anyway, and it would be good press for him to win it. Good luck to Price in the Cy Young voting, but that won’t happen for another month. What the Rays need from him right now is a strong start to lead them to a key win on Sunday and keep them alive in the AL Wild Card race.

More Topkin, he also noted some of the statistical oddities that the Rays have managed this season.

"OddballsAs always, the Rays do some interesting things. Among them:• Became the first team to be perfect-gamed three times in regular-season play, and all in a span of four seasons.• Could be the first team to lead the AL in ERA and be last in fielding percentage since the 1945 Senators.• Are the first team to have more than 1,200 strikeouts by their hitters and pitchers.• Could be the first team to lead the majors in walks with this low of a batting average since the 1968 Red Sox.• Could be the first team to lead the AL in stolen bases for five straight seasons since the 1951-61 White Sox."

None of those are exactly a good thing other than the last one, but there’s a common thread among the middle three oddballs that the Rays find someway to overcome their deficiencies and do everything they can to win.

And finally, Topkins’ Tampa Bay Times colleague Tom Jones talked about the most under-appreciated Tampa Bay sports figures and named B.J. Upton the player who best fit the profile for the Rays.

"The old saying will come true: You don’t know what you miss until it’s gone. Baseball fans in Tampa Bay will be reminded of that next season."

 Upton leads the Rays in homers and RBI and is tied with Desmond Jennings for the team stolen base lead. He also has just a .244 average and a .296 OBP. B.J. Upton remains an enigma. But he’s an enigma who has carried the Rays for stretches this season and the Rays have desperately needed his production all year.