If you like pitching, this game's for you; unless you're a Rays fan that is. Both Chris Sale and Matt Moore were on their A Game yesterday as the two young lefty southpaws battled in a impressive pitching duel, combining for 25 strikeouts.
Sale dominated a Rays lineup that featured only two lefties (Will Rhymes and Rich Thompson), striking-out a Tropicana Field record 15 batters in his 7.1 innings pitched. Moore had probably his best outing of the 2012 season, as one mistake pitch to Adam Dunn was the only thing that stood in the way of a scoreless outing for him.
The Rays struck first, finally getting to Sale with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Jose Lobaton—who was just called up before the game after ending his minor league rehab stint—knocked in Ben Zobrist from second to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Lobaton's RBI single was one of three Rays hits yesterday; the other two coming from Zobrist.
Chicago had their first hacks of solid contact in the sixth inning. Following a strikeout to start the inning, Gordon Beckham singled on a hard-hit grounder, followed by Dunn's mammoth two-run blast (estimated 445 ft.), which would prove to be enough to give the red-hot White Sox another W on memorial day.
Although they only scored a run and struck out 15 times, I don't think we can have much complaints about the Rays' offense after yesterday's performance. They're missing three huge right handed bats—Jeff Keppinger (.417 against LHP this season), Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings—who would more than likely equate for at least a run, when you consider what the replacements for the trio were. The Rays did, however, manage reach base five times against Sale and were able to scrap out a run despite a very weak lineup.
Another positive sign from yesterday's Memorial Day matchup was Matt Moore, who seems to be on the right track after experiencing his usual early season struggles. Below's his stat line, which included 10 strikeouts and just one walk.
The Rays now stand at 29-20, and remain tied atop the division with Baltimore and 2.5 games over New York. The O's lost 6-2 to Toronto last night, The Yanks fell 9-8 to LA on a Mark Trumbo walk-off homer, and the Red Sox beat Detroit 7-4 scoring three runs (the difference in the game) on this missed call.
Notable stat lines from yesterday's game:
- M. Moore(L, 1-5): 2 ER, 4 H, 10 K, BB through 7.0 IP. ERA now 4.76.
- W. Davis: 0 R, H, K, BB through 2.0 IP. ERA now 1.93.
- B. Zobrist: 2-4, R, SB
- J. Lobaton: 1-2, RBI, BB
Rays news and notes:
- Hideki Matsui is set to join the Rays tonight and will wear No. 35, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. Matsui has worn No. 55 his entire career, but the number has been taken by Matt Moore. Stephen Vogt is most likely to be demoted to make room for Godzilla on the active roster. Matsui played 13 game with Triple-A Durham, and hit .170 with four RBI and no homers. Let's hope that Matsui's bat (.285 average career against LHP) provides some balance to the lineup while Jennings, Longo and Kepp are on the sidelines.
- Chris Gimenez was demoted to AAA Durham yesterday to make room for Jose Lobaton.
- James Shields (6-2, 3.63 ERA) will square off against Chicago's Phil Humber (1-2, 5.80) tonight at 7:10 first pitch.
- Desmond Jennings will likely start his rehab assignment on either Wednesday or Thursday, and probably won't rejoin the Rays until late next week.