Game 78:Matt Moore K’s 11 En Route to Rays Victory

By Dereck Violante

Matt Moore throws career high 120 pitches en route to a 5-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Matt Moore has struggled over his last four starts, allowing 22 earned runs over 18 2/3 innings of work with a 15/14 K/BB ratio, but showed why his ceiling is so high.  Moore bounced back with an 11 strikeout performance over 6 innings of work, allowing 1 earned run on 4 hits, all singles.  The concerning part is the 6 walks Moore gave up tonight.  Moore has always struggled with command but seemed to be successful early this year when he kept his walk rate in check.  Either way he did manage to pitch a solid game in light of the 6 walks tonight earning the win. Blue Jays hitters were completely helpless when he threw the ball anywhere near the plate, and if Moore can throw more stirkes, good things will be ahead.

Toronto did manage to open the scoring in the top of the second as Macier Izturishit a 2-out RBI single giving the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.  But it was all Rays after that. The Rays evened the score during the bottom of the frame on a Desmond Jennings 2-out RBI single, tying the game at 1 apiece. Matt Moore pitched himself in and out of a jam in the third after loading the bases but escaping trouble by closing the inning with back to back strikeouts to Davis and Rasmus.

The bulk of the damage was done in the bottom of the fifth with Joe Molina leading off the inning with walk, followed by Kelly Johnson getting hit with a pitc.  Up next, Desmond Jennings singled up the middle but the slow footed Molina was held at third loading the bases.  Sean Rodriguez then lifted a sac fly to right with Molina avoiding the tag at the plate eeven as right fielder Jose Bautista threw a perfect strike to home, giving Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead.  Both runners advanced on the throw home which ended up making a difference as Ben Zobrist then hit the second sac fly of the inning, this time scoring Johnson. Looking to avoid the big inning, Toronto opted to intentionally walk Evan Longoria in order to pitch to rookie Wil Myers.  That plan backfired as Myers laced an RBI single to left putting the Rays up 4-1 at that point.

Tampa Bay tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh after back-to-back singles by Yunel Escobar and James Loney began the frame, followed by a double steal, that didn’t even invoke a throw, putting both runners in scoring position.  Jose Molina grounded out next but the double steal paid off for Joe Maddon as it could have been a sure double play, with the possibility of a triple play with the slow footed Molina running.  Kelly Johnson then hit a soft ground out to second that allowed Escobar to score, further padding the Rays lead at 5-1 now.

Jake McGee, Kyle Farnsworth, and Jamie Wright managed to do what a reliable bullpen should do, holding the lead in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, effectively holding the Blue Jays offense in check.  Other notable performances on the night were Evan Longoria going 1-2 with 3 walks and James Loney going 3-4, raising his average to .310 in the process.

Up next for Tampa Bay is game 3 of the series with Toronto as Tampa Bay goes for the sweep with a rare 12:10pm start with the Rays sending Roberto Hernandez (4-8, 5.14 ERA) to the mound against reigning NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey (6-8, 5.15 ERA). The Blue Jays entered the series winners of 11 games in a row, but now the Rays will look to send them packing with a third straight loss.