Last night's loss to the Angels in the opening game of the series did not bode well for the Rays, as the Angels are one of the toughest teams to play over the past few months. While the game last night was a surprisingly low-scoring affair on both ends, with the Angels only scoring three runs; a surprisingly low number for such an offense-loaded lineup. Tonight, it was a battle of two lefty "aces", with Matt Moore going head-to-head against CJ Wilson, and it was a pitcher's duel indeed.
Both Moore and Wilson have underperformed when compared to the lofty expectations the experts, commentators, and scouts placed upon them before the season started. Before tonight's game, Moore was 6-7 with a less-than-impressive ERA of above 4.20, and Wilson (while not exactly hurting in the ERA department with a 2.88) has struggled to find consistency in his starts.
The scoring was once again started by the Rays, courtesy of a Ben Zobrist sac fly in the first, which scored Desmond Jennings.
One inning later, Sean Rodriguez scored on a error made by shortstop Maicer Izturis on a routine infield pop up.
Ben Zobrist would provide the last run the game would see when, in the third inning, he took CJ Wilson yard to center field for a solo shot (his 12th of the season).
This would prove to be more than enough run support for Moore, who pitched a fine game, lasting 6.1 innings while only giving up 4 hits to the potent Angels offense, while striking out 6 and minimizing the walks to 2. Starts like these are what build up a pitcher's confidence, and as a rookie, confidence is all you have to get you through your first season, seeing as how you're still getting acclimated to the big lights and outrageous talent that only The Show can provide. Like CJ Wilson, Moore has struggled to find consistency in his starts; he has constantly gotten to a .500 record, only to dip below it in his very next start. The Rays organization (particularly Andrew Friedman) invested quite a bit in the promising lefty, and the results haven't justified the risk they took thusfar, but then again, he's only a rookie.
The Rays improve to 52-49 on the season and gain some ground in both the AL East and Wild Card race. They currently stand three games out of a Wild Card spot and 8.5 games behind the Yankees in the division.
Tomorrow's game will decide the series, and is a must-watch for fans of both teams, particularly due to the fact that newly acquired ace Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.44 ERA) will be making his Angels debut, and is facing off against last year's AL ROY Jeremy Hellickson (5-6, 3.42 ERA). First pitch is at 3:35 tomorrow afternoon.
Notable Stat Lines:
M. Moore(TAM): (W, 7-7) 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K
B. Zobrist(TAM): 1-2, R, HR, 2 RBI