Matt Moore is still perfect so far in his 2013 campaign, courtesy of the Red Sox earlier this evening. Even more important about his victory this evening is the fact that Moore now has the most wins in the American League, and is tied with Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals in the entire league with 7.
What's more is that James Loney, primarily known for his solid glove at 1st Base, leads the entire league in batting average, posting a mind-blowing .381 average thus far.
While tonight's game featured a heavy dose of small ball, the Rays are more than accustomed to playing in any way that ends with a "W" when all is said and done. Jose Molina (3-3 with a Double) and Matt Joyce displayed that perfectly while keeping the ball in the park and driving in two runs apiece.
Pitching was really the story for the Rays tonight, as was the case last year with the AL record-setting performance by the Rays' pitching staff. Moore allowed 3 runs to cross on only 3 hits, while walking just two batters —a small number for someone who throws as hard as Moore does. Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli both found out just how dominant Moore has been this year on the mound, both becoming victims/recipients of the dreaded hat trick, accounting for 6 of Moore's 8 punchouts on the night.
The speculations about David Price being traded during the 2013 season have now evolved to become something along the lines of a "soft guarantee"; everyone is confident the Rays will trade Price for at least one highly touted prospect, and some lesser-known prospects as well. With Moore pitching as well as he has so far this season, the fallout of losing Price might not be anywhere near as bad as people have thought it up to be.
This win makes it 6 in a row for the Rays, who split the four game series against the Blue Jays and then swept the struggling Padres before tonight's game. The Rays also continue to stay above the .500 mark, and are 2.5 games behind Baltimore for second in the AL East. Manager Joe Maddon is more than likely pleased about holding the lead and then finishing with it tonight, as he voiced some displeasure about the Rays having to rely on luck in order to win (after blowing a lead).
As long as Moore continues to deliver quality start after quality start each time he takes the mound, the Rays will take the field every time knowing that all they'll have to do is put up at least 2-3 runs in order to walk off the field with another win. That's a very comfortable feeling for a team that has been thought of as "offensively challenged" and lacking any "real" run-producers apart from Longoria.
Game 2 of the three-game series begins at 7pm tomorrow, and pits two lefties against one another on the mound: David Price (1-3, 4.78 ERA) and Jon Lester (5-0, 2.73 ERA).
Notable Stats from Tonight's Game:
M. Moore: (W, 7-0) 6 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO
J. Molina: 3-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI
M. Joyce: 1-3, BB, 2 RBI
J. Loney: 2-4, R, 2B