After a cold, blustery, and all together disappointing road trip to Baltimore, the Rays came home to a sunny and 75 degree St. Pete to kick off a long home-stand. The visiting Cleveland Indians welcomed playing under the dome as well, as they only played four games in the season's opening week, after three games got postponed due to a snowy storm impacting the Midwest.
On their road trip, the Rays were plagued by ineffective starting pitching out of their top two starters in Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi. Matt Moore looked to turn that trend around Tuesday night.
And He Did.
Matt Moore pitched pretty darn well Tuesday night. He pitched to both sides of the plate effectively, especially against an almost entirely right-handed lineup.
He went a full seven innings, the longest by a Rays' starter this season, and had only one true blemish, a booming home run to the Indians' powerful shortstop Francisco Lindor. Moore tried to go back-to-back on changeups and Lindor was wise to the move. It didn't help that Moore left the pitch a little higher than he wanted, but that's baseball sometimes.
He struck out five batters and only let one man reach via the free pass over seven innings. He scattered five hits and only allowed the tally on the home run. The Rays will certainly take that kind of outing every fifth day out of their fourth starter.
If only he could get some run support . . .
Can LoMo Get Mo' Lo'?
Terrible play on words in that subtitle aside, it's getting maddening to watch Logan Morrison take at-bats.
Granted Corey Kluber was on point in this one, going eight strong innings and working every possible part of the zone with every possible pitch in his arsenal, LoMo just looked clueless each time he stepped in the batters' box.
His average was a dismal .056 coming into the contest and going 0-for-3 with a walk only exacerbated that number. His OBP was a paltry .105. The man has gotten one hit and one walk in 22 at bats this season.
And what's most troubling is the fact that his OBP has been trending downward consistently for the past three seasons, hitting a career low .302 last year in Seattle.
I don't mean to mash the panic button on April 12, but at what point does Steve Pearce become a more attractive option against righties and lefties?
And not to add insult to injury, but aren't we paying a first baseman with a career .338 OBP $8M to not play for us . . . ?
It's often said that baseball is a game of adjustments, and adjust Logan Forsythe did.
Indians' starter Kluber K'd Frosty earlier in the night with a fastball in tight to the Rays' second baseman.
In the bottom of the eighth, with Kevin Kiermaier at second after a HBP and a steal, Kluber tried to go back to the well again, but Forsythe adjusted beautifully. He sped up his hands and turned the pitch around, blasting it into deep left-centerfield for a two-run shot, 3-1 Rays.
After a rare LoMo walk, Evan Longoria decided to show off an adjustment of his own.
The homer by Forsythe chased Corey Kluber from the mound, bringing in the Cleveland closer, Cody Allen.
After Longoria had similarly been struck out early on by a Kluber fastball middle-down, Allen tried to do the same. Evan went down and got it, hitting it square and on a line over the wall in left for another two-run homerun, giving the Rays the 5-1 lead they would take to the end, supported by perfect innings from Xavier Cedeno in the eighth and Alex Colome in the ninth.
My Two Cents
- Having Corey Dickerson at DH has added a level of confidence as a fan. It was his double into left that set up the Rays' tying of the game in the seventh. Again, it's still early, but having a Rays' DH with an OPS of 1.089 at any point in a season is certainly refreshing.
- Forsythe made a heck of a play defensively in the 9th to preserve the win he helped secure with his bat. A high chopper from Lindor nearly allowed the speedy shortstop to reach first, but Forsythe was quicker.
- Not to be outdone, Steven Souza Jr. made a great leaping catch to end the game on a hard shot to right by Carlos Santana. It looked like it was going to be over his head and would extend the game, but Souza adjusted his route and made a brilliant catch to ice this one.
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