The pitcher’s mound at Nationals Park has been a hotbed of
excitement in the first two games between the Tampa Bay Rays and
It looks like the same could be true in the series finale.
The Rays’ Matt Moore tries to win a fourth straight start and
build on the best outing of his brief career Thursday night when he
squares off against Gio Gonzalez.
Tampa Bay (38-30) won Tuesday’s opener 5-4 in a game that will
be most remembered for the ejection of reliever Joel Peralta for
having pine tar on his glove. The umpires converged on the mound
prior to the start of the eighth inning after Nationals manager
Davey Johnson asked them to inspect Peralta’s glove.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was furious after the game, calling
Johnson’s actions “cowardly,” “bush” and “bogus.” Johnson knew
about the pine tar because he had inside information on Peralta,
who pitched for the Nationals in 2010.
No gloves were checked Wednesday, on a night when Washington’s
Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 over seven innings in a 3-2 victory
to earn his ninth win. The Rays countered with Chris Archer, who
allowed three runs and three hits – all in the first inning – in
his major league debut. Peralta, who was suspended eight games
Thursday but is appealing the ban, entered Wednesday’s game wearing
Jeremy Hellickson’s glove and retired the two batters he faced in
Bryce Harper drove in his 20th run and came around to score for
Washington, which didn’t record another hit after the first inning
but still managed to snap a four-game losing streak. Facing Moore
(4-5, 4.16 ERA) might again pose problems for the Nationals
(39-27), who are batting .190 with 13 total runs in the last five
In his 14th start since debuting last September, Moore allowed
one hit and three walks while striking out eight in seven innings
of an 11-0 win over Miami on Friday.
“It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve had all three
pitches throughout the night,” Moore said. “It’s a lot more fun to
pitch like that.”
Although Moore claims he hasn’t had his best stuff lately, the
22-year-old left-hander hasn’t pitched terribly. Friday’s outing
was the fourth time in five starts he yielded two earned runs or
fewer, which has trimmed more than a run off his ERA from 5.20.
One area Moore is still looking to improve upon is his walks. He
averages 4.28 per nine innings, the fourth-worst mark in the
Base on balls have also been a problem for Gonzalez (8-3, 2.52),
who averages 3.66 per nine innings, the NL’s ninth-worst mark.
Although both pitchers have control issues, both also get their
share of strikeouts.
Gonzalez ranks third in baseball with an average of 11.10
strikeouts per nine innings, while Moore averages 9.40, the majors’
Gonzalez hasn’t been quite as sharp this month, going 1-2 with a
4.24 ERA in three starts after opening the year 7-1 with a 2.04
ERA. Against the Yankees on Friday, the left-hander allowed three
runs, five hits and two walks while striking out eight in six
innings of a 7-2 loss.
Tampa Bay catcher Jose Molina, who homered Wednesday, Carlos
Pena and B.J. Upton are a combined 2 for 22 lifetime against