Talk about an outing on the mound to start off the 2013 season the right way.
Matt Moore had a productive season in 2012 as a rookie and a starter in the toughest division in baseball. Tonight was his first scheduled start of the season, and he wanted to start off his 2013 campaign with a solid start to build some momentum off of.
He did just that, hurling 6 scoreless innings against a Cleveland Indians lineup that is lacking in consistent, quality hitters apart from Michael Bourn.
After Chris Davis single-handedly tore up the Rays' pitching staff (and gave Minnesota's staff a migraine earlier today) in the team's first series of the season, a lights-out night on the mound from your starter and quality pitching from the 'pen is always a good stress reliever.
Offensively, the Rays probably have the weakest lineup in the AL East, even though New York is fielding a team with only one legitimate offensive threat –Robinson Cano. Competing with what many feel is the most stacked offensive lineup in the league in the Blue Jays, and a rejuvenated Orioles team that now includes Manny Machado as a starter, is no easy task for a team that ranked in the mid-to-low 20's last year in offensive production.
Fortunately for Joe Maddon (and the Rays pitching staff), Ben Zobrist didn't get the memo. Through the first four games, Zobrist is hitting .467 while slugging .800; he's also driven in 7 runs, and was responsible for 3 of the team's 4 runs in tonight's game. Zobrist laced two doubles off of starter Zach McAllister, both of which put to rest any notion that he wasn't worth the contract he was given a few years ago.
Until Wil Myers is called up, Zobrist's offensive output of this consistency provides decent protection for Longoria even if he does have a hat trick. Couple that with dominant outings like Moore had this evening, and there may not be too much to worry about in the coming months.
Notable Stats From Tonight's Game:
M. Moore: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K
B. Zobrist: 2-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI
S. Fuld: 2-4, 2 R
Game 2 in the series with Cleveland happens tomorrow night at 7:10, with Alex Cobb making his season debut for the Rays, and an extremely young Trevor Bauer taking the mound for Cleveland.