The outcome of the game, a 4-2 loss to Jason Vargas and the Royals which dropped the Rays record to 4-4, is not what's important tonight. Matt Moore and the health of his elbow are.
He's been one of the more frustrating pitchers in baseball to watch since the middle part of last season, loaded with potential but so far unable to fully harness it. Tonight was a perfect example. He only allowed one run, after a leadoff triple by Norichika Aoki, but was constantly behind in counts and unable to put hitters away with two strikes. He was seemingly turning it around in the fourth inning, working a perfect frame while striking out two. Then in the fifth inning, he grimaced while throwing a changeup to Aoki and was removed from the game.
The team reported the issue as "left elbow soreness" which should scare the hell out of any fan. Joe Maddon lessened the blow by saying Moore felt soreness and did not hear a pop. That's all well and good, but Moore experienced the same injury last season while throwing changeups and was placed on the disabled list as a precautionary measure. Head trainer Ron Porterfield said Moore's injury "would appear less severe than last year's (h/t Marc Topkin), so he has that going for him, which is nice. The changeup is an important pitch for him, but if it's going to give him elbow soreness something will have to change.
We'll have more updates when Moore's MRI results are released.
As for the rest of the game, Heath Bell allowed a bases clearing double in the sixth inning that put the Rays in a hole they were unable to climb out of. That's not to say Bell pitched terribly. Two weak groundballs found their way for hits that inning before the double to Alcides Escobar. He actually acted as the long man, throwing 2.2 innings for some reason while Cesar Ramos worked just one.
For a second straight night the Rays offense failed to come up with the big hit when needed. They were 1-5 with men in scoring position and stranded eight men total. The only two starters to record hits were Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria, going 5-10 on the night. Zobrist homered in the ninth to prevent the shutout, and Matt Joyce would single home Logan Forsythe to bring the Rays within two.
New millionaire Chris Archer takes the hill tomorrow against flame throwing Yordano Ventura.