Game 57: Matt Moore Gets Eaten Alive by Tigers’ Offense

By Dereck Violante

Tampa Bay, 7-1 in their last 8 games, get shelled by Detroit 10-1, touching off a 3 game series.  Joe Maddon adjusted the pitching rotation to have Matt Moore (8-0, 2.18 ERA) take the mound in an attempt to continue his dominant season, taking on Anibal Sanchez (5-5, 2.79 ERA), reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, and the rest of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Tampa Bay struck first in the top of the 2nd with a lead-off triple by Evan Longoria over the head of a diving Torii Hunter deep to right center.  Following a James Loney strikeout, Desmond Jennings was able to bring in Longoria with a sac fly giving the Rays a 1-0 lead and ending their offense for the night.  In the bottom of the frame it began to unravel for Moore.  After giving up a lead-off single to Jhonny Peralta, Matt Tuiasosopo crushed a double to right center, scoring Peralta, and tying the game at 1.  After a quick ground out advancing the runner to third, young center fielder Avisail Garcia drew a walk putting men at 1st & 3rd with 1 out.  Omar Infante hit a sac fly scoring a run and advancing the other runner to 2nd.  With a 2 run lead Torii Hunter then drew a walk after falling behind 0-2.  Hoping to settle Moore down, pitching coach Jim Hickey had a quick visit to the mound but it seemed to do very little as Miguel Cabrera, hitting .577 w/RISP, drew a walk on 4 straight pitches on what essentially looked like a pitch around, looking to play the lefty vs. lefty matchup against Prince Fielder, Moore gave up a 2 run single to Fielder before finally making it out of the inning.

Things did not get any easier for Moore as his struggles continued into the bottom of the 3rd, with the Tigers already leading 4-1.  Jhonny Peralta lead off the inning with a double, followed by 2 straight walks loading the bases for Avisail Garcia, who then had and RBI single.  With the bases still loaded, Moore walked in a run, tying his career high with 6 walks, and now giving Detroit a 6-1 lead.  That was the end of the night for Moore as he was replaced with Alex Torres hoping to limit the damage.  Torres did a tremendous job invoking a force out at home, followed by back to back strikeouts against both Miguel Cabrera & Prince Fielder.  Matt Moore’s pitching line was an ugly 2 innings pitched with 1 strikeout, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits and 6 walks.  His control was all over tonight as he came into the game walking just 28 on the season.

Detroit essentially put the nails in the coffin as the light hitting Omar Infante took Kyle Farnsworth deep for a solo blast to left in the bottom of the 5th, Prince Fielder hit a sac fly in the 6th and a solo blast in the 8th, as well as an RBI bloop single by Don Kelly.

This was an ugly game all around for Tampa who lacked offense, and both starting & bullpen pitching.  The lone bright spot being Alex Torres throwing 2 innings of shutout ball with 2 strikeouts attempting to keep Tampa Bay in it.  Hopefully Alex Cobb‘s hot start can get the Rays back on track.

Up next for the Rays is game 2 of the 3 game series as Alex Cobb (6-2, 2.66 ERA) will take on Doug Fister (5-2, 3.28 ERA) for a 7:08 PM start Wednesday night.