Rays Spring Game 8: Matt Moore Takes The Hill

By Joe Saunders

After a 6-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday, the Rays take on the Pittsburgh Pirates today at 1:05 in Port Charlotte. Here is the Rays’ lineup:

  1. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  2. James Loney, 1B
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Yunel Escobar, SS
  5. Jose Molina, C
  6. Brandon Guyer, RF
  7. Mikie Mahtook, CF
  8. Justin Christian, LF
  9. Curt Casali, DH

Starting Pitcher: Matt Moore

This will be Matt Moore’s second outing of Spring Training. In his first start he went 1.2 innings allowing 2 hits, struck out 2 and walked a batter. His command was fairly good in his first start and his fastball velocity was around 91-93 MPH. His fastball velocity will be something to take note of throughout this spring as his diminished velocity was well noted in 2013. He went back to his old off-season training program in Arizona this winter to try and get his fastball velocity back up. It would also be nice to see him work in his change-up a little more often. If he can develop his third pitch a bit more he could really take his game to another level.

The Rays lineup today features the entire starting infield backing up Moore. Ben Zobrist has looked good in the limited games he’s played so far this Spring Training and will hope to continue getting back to full speed. Yunel Escobar has been smashing the ball so far this spring, which hopefully continues and carries over into the regular season. Brandon Guyer will get another chance to prove him self in the outfield. He has a great chance to make the roster out of camp due to that fact that he is out of options this year and if he continues to play good defense and hit left-handed pitching he will be another good asset. Curt Casali will be a name to watch as he competes to be the Rays #3 catcher this spring.

Grant Balfour and Joel Peralta are slated to take the mound after Moore today. Balfour had a rough outing on Wednesday and will look to rebound today. Peralta has looked very sharp in his first two outings this spring. Jake McGee should also get into today’s game and will look to continue his progress on adding an off-speed pitch. McGee has used his new curveball in his first two outings and it has looked pretty good with nice break on it. Adding an off-speed pitch will be his main priority this spring.

Wilson Betemit is among the Rays’ reserves today, as he could make his Spring Training debut. He made it to camp late due to visa issues and likely won’t make the opening day roster but could play a valuable role as depth at Triple A. His ability to play multiple positions and switch-hit could mean he’ll be the first call up in the event an injury occurs.

Today’s game won’t be broadcasted on TV today but you can listen to the game on WDAE 620 AM/ 95.3 FM radio in the Tampa Bay Area. Check back here later for the game recap.