Just how good is Matt Moore? With the Rays desperate for a win following losses in their first two games versus the Chicago White Sox, Moore gave them everything they could have asked for on Saturday night, going 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 9 while walking out 1, as the Rays beat the White Sox 10-4.
After five starts, Moore is 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA, striking out 38 while walking 15 in 32 innings pitched. Small sample size caveats still apply–Moore certainly isn't quite this good and his walk rate inspires reason for concern–but Moore just continues to dominate and the more we see him do that, the more we believe that we may finally be seeing him harnessing his potential and becoming that ace-type pitcher he always had the ability to be.
While Moore dominated for the Rays, a hard-throwing lefty of the Rays past, Scott Kazmir, found a way to turn back the clock just a little bit. Kazmir started for the Indians and rebounded for his horrific season debut with a strong effort in the Indians' 3-2 loss to the Royals, going 5 innings allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2, one intentional.
A Salvador Perez two-run home run was Kazmir's only real blemish as he gave the Indians five strong innings and kept them very much in the game. Kazmir's pitch count got up as he threw 99 pitches in his five innings of work, but 66 of his pitches were strikes as his control was fine but he actually had trouble putting away hitters. Kazmir still has plenty more work to do, but it was an excellent first step. It's unrealistic to expect Kazmir to ever overpower hitters like he once did on a regular basis for the Rays, but he has definitely matured as a pitcher to counteract the stuff he has lost and a future as a back-of-the-rotation type of starter could very much be in the wings.
Here are your links for today:
-Speaking of Molina, Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus discussed the week in pitch framing, with Molina being featured quite prominently. Two of Molina's frames sent Francisco Cervelli and Josh Reddick to the dugout not exactly enthused.
-At least for the moment, the Pirates are contending, and Scott Spratt of ESPN highlighted their defense and specifically their defensive shifts as a big reason why. Always nice to see other teams emulating the Rays way of seizing every opportunity you can possibly get both on the offensive and defensive sides.
-All is apparently forgiven between James Shields and Evan Longoria after Longoria's comments this past spring sparked some controversy. Should be fun to see the Rays play the Royals beginning on Tuesday.