ST. PETERSBURG - AUGUST 24: Catcher Derek Norris #36 of the Oakland Athletics congratulates pitcher Grant Balfour #50 after his save against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on August 24, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
You can't win them all. After a loss like this, you have to sit back and reflect on that statement for a little while. For all the great starts Moore has, he will be touched up (not hammered, but hit a little more than usual) occasionally. That bullpen's sparkling sub-1.00 ERA since the All-Star break wasn't going to last either. Even the hottest and most talented baseball teams still lose a portion of their games. Over 162 of them, bad performances are bound to occur sometimes.
Even though Matt Moore's 3 ER in only 6.1 innings aren't the components of a dominating start, Moore certainly had his sharp stuff last night. He generated his second highest amount of SwStr% of the year (swinging strikes) by mixing in his fastball, curveball, and changeup effectively (although more off-speed first pitches would have been nice). Unfortunately, he left too many fastballs up and over the heart of the plate, allowing Oakland to collect several extra base hits (although no home runs) and leading to the runs. If we can pull anything from this game about Moore, it should be awe over how good he will be when he tightens up his fastball command.
The Rays were the first to score with Ben Zobrist launching a home run off of the young and talented Jarrod Parker in the bottom of the second inning. With Moore looking dominant in the first three innings (a single and no walks to four strikeouts), the Rays appeared to have a large edge over the A's.
Yet in the top of the fourth inning, Oakland struck for two runs. After Stephen Drew flew out, Cespedes ripped a triple, aided by a questionable route by Upton. After getting ahead of Carter, Moore walked him, putting runners of first and third with one out. Moore was able to get Gomes swinging though, and it seemed like the Rays would escape the jam unscathed. However, Donaldson rolled over a pitch through the hole and into RF, scoring Cespedes. After a hit-by-pitch, Moore induced a weak groundball to first base, but Pena made what was really an awful defensive play, performing a slow toss to the covering Moore instead of a throw. Just like that, the A's managed take the lead 2-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, Zobrist got things rolling again, this time tripling and coming home to score on a sacrifice fly by Keppinger. The Rays reclaimed the lead in the next inning, with Jose Molina and BJ Upton both hitting doubles to pull one ahead.
But in the seventh inning, Oakland rallied, hitting back to back doubles to start off the frame. Moore was pulled after recording an out. With a tie game and a runner on third, McGee struck out the two batters he faced, blowing them away with mid-90s heat.
In the eighth inning though, Oakland would capture the lead for good. After recording two easy outs, Peratla surrendered a single to Carter and then gave former Rays Johnny Gomes an elevated 89 mph fastball, which he deposited in the left field seats.
Against another former Rays in Grant Balfour, the Rays rallied in the ninth. A Ryan Roberts lead-off walk put a runner on first. After two tough calls on the outside portion of the plate, Scott slapped a double to the opposite field, scoring Roberts. But with a runner on second and no outs, the Rays next three hitters, the top of the lineup, couldn't managed to bring him in.