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Rays 10, White Sox 4: Matt Moore stays hot, improves to 5-0

Almost everything was clicking for the Rays today.

David Banks

I love baseball. It's been my one constant obsession since, oh, probably the third grade, and I never get tired of reading about or following it. And yet sometimes, I swear, there are games that just drag on and on, and come about as close to "boring" me as it's possible for baseball to do. Tonight was one of those nights.

The big problem was that after about the second inning, it was never in doubt who was going to win the game. The Rays jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Ben Zobrist home run, and Matt Moore was absolutely lights-out on the mound. After walking the first batter of the game, he proceeded to strike out the next six hitters in a row and carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning. He was locating his fastball well, getting ahead of hitters, and throwing his curveball for strikes. Basically everything was working for Moore, and the only dent in his armor came when Adam Dunn hit one of Moore's few mistake pitches of the night over the right-centerfield wall for a home run. Besides for that, Moore was brilliant: six innings, three hits, one run, one walk, and nine strikeouts.

So although Moore didn't work late in the game -- the one "negative" of his performance was that he racked up a high pitch count early on -- the White Sox never had a chance against him. And by the time he'd left the game, the Rays had opened up a 5-1 lead, and it seemed like it should be easy enough for the Rays bullpen to get the final nine outs and wrap things up. Let's clean it up, finish the job and go home.

Well, things weren't quite that easy. Jake McGee pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh, but not without some drama. McGee got two outs on strikeouts, loaded the bases on two singles (granted, they were both weak bloops) and a walk, and then finally got out of the inning with one more strikeout. He looked about as good as he has all season; his fastball location is all over the place still, and while he has gotten by with pumping fastballs by hitters, he's gotten into lots of tight jams as well. He escaped this time unscathed, but he's going to continue to be far from a sure thing until his command tightens up and he starts feeling more comfortable with his other offerings.

Come the eighth inning, Joe Maddon brought in Kyle Farnsworth to the nearly-audible joy of the White Sox hitters. There's no real way around it; Farnsworth looked awful out there. He threw almost all sinkers and sliders, but unfortunately, his pitches were either way too hittable or were outside the strike zone. Farnsworth walked a hitter, got one out on a pop-up, walked another hitter, and then allowed three singles in a row. He only had one swinging strike on the night, and he still has yet to log his first strikeout of the season. It is early, but at the moment, he's the pitcher in the Rays bullpen that I'm most concerned about.

The last few innings of the game dragged along, as the White Sox and Rays both kept scraping across a few runs here and there, but there was never a serious threat to the Rays' lead. After Cesar Ramos closed it out in the ninth, Matt Moore improved to 5-0, putting him in some illustrious historical company:

  • Gavin Floyd left the game in the middle of the third inning, and it was later announced that he has a right elbow flexor muscle strain - the same injury that sidelined him last season. That was an unlucky break for the White Sox, as the Rays proceeded to batter Hector Santiago. They got 10 hits in only four innings off him, breaking the game open.
  • Jose Molina also left the game early after being hit in the right knee in the fourth inning. He was later diagnosed with a right hamstring contusion and is day-to-day.
  • The Rays finished the game with 19 hits, their highest total in a single game so far this season. Kelly Johnson and Evan Longoria both had four hits, and James Loney continue his hot hitting by going three for five.