August 3, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton (2) is congratulated by left fielder Desmond Jennings (8) after he hit a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. This was B.J. Upton (2) 100 career home run. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Rays pitching staff kept up their excellent run of late, shutting out the Orioles tonight. It was more of a collective effort, with starter Matt Moore lasting just five and one third innings. It's not that Moore pitched poorly -- he didn't allow a run -- but he wasn't at his sharpest, racking up some extended at bats early that came back to bite him.
The only time he was in any real trouble was the first inning when he loaded the bases after a giving up two singles and a walk. He was able to get out of that by striking out Mark Reynolds with a fastball. It was interesting to see Moore attack Reynolds. He got ahead 0-2 using only fastballs then decided it was time to throw his first two off-speed pitches of the inning and missed with two changeups. Reynolds is able to hit a ball a country mile if you make a mistake, but he's also uber strike out prone. Moore's fastball is good enough, and has had the location of late, to challenge Reynolds to beat him there. He eventually did and the Rays got out of the jam.
He relied more on his fastball than he did in his start last week against the Angels. In that start 60 of his 103 pitches were fastball, tonight 77 of 108. That could be due to a couple factors, secondary stuff not being as sharp or the general game plan against two vastly different teams. I'm guessing it had more to do with the Angels having a much better offense and needing to mix up his pitches to fool hitters like Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. One thing he continued was his whiffy-ness. He got 19 swings and misses last week and 16 tonight.
The shutout also marked the fourth time in the last six games the Rays have done that. They're not winning by big margins, but the pitching has been absolutely stellar which has allowed the offense to do just enough to secure a victory.
Speaking of the offense, it was a rather unimpressive night against the struggling Tommy Hunter. The top four hitters in the order, Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist did all the damage, racking up five of the team's six hits and drawing the only walk of the night. The health of Jeff Keppinger may be in question after he slid awkwardly into second base. He was seen heading to the clubhouse with trainer Ron Porterfield but came out and had another at bat later in the game. He was lifted for pinch hitter Sam Fuld later in the game, though it was against a tough right handed reliever with two men on.
The win moves the Rays a game ahead of the Orioles into sole possession of second place in the division.
- Upton's home run was the 100th of his career and it came on the same night brother, Justin Upton, hit his 100th. They also hit number 99 on the same day.