Red Sox-Rays Preview
Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Matt Moore is universally considered
among baseball’s top pitching prospects, but his performance thus
far in 2012 has been disappointing.
Boston Red Sox southpaw Felix Doubront flies under the radar,
but is proving a reliable cog in the rotation in his first full
season in the majors.
Moore will oppose Doubront for the second time this season
Thursday night at Tropicana Field as the AL East-leading Rays go
for a five-game overall winning streak and a two-game sweep of the
Red Sox before beginning interleague play.
The 22-year-old Moore (1-3, 5.31 ERA) appeared destined for
stardom last fall, after throwing five shutout innings to win at
Yankee Stadium in his first major league start, then allowing one
run and three hits over 10 postseason innings, earning the Rays’
only victory in their division series against Texas.
Success hasn’t come as easily in 2012. Moore’s first decision
was a loss April 15 at Fenway Park, where – starting opposite
Doubront – he gave up six runs, eight hits and four walks in 6 1-3
innings of the Rays’ 6-4 defeat.
Moore pitched better in subsequent outings, but has failed to
make it out of the fifth inning of either of his last two.
He allowed eight runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-5 home loss to
Oakland on May 6, then surrendered four runs over 4 1-3 innings
Saturday, getting charged with a 5-3 loss at Baltimore. Only one of
the runs against the Orioles was earned in a game where the Rays
(24-14) made five errors, but Moore walked four batters and labored
through 101 pitches.
“Yes, they made some errors out there, but they can’t defend
against my walks, my 2-0 counts, other stuff I did out there,”
Doubront (3-1, 4.46), meanwhile, appeared to be almost an
afterthought in the No. 4 spot of the Boston rotation after making
33 appearances in 2010 and 2011 but spending more of his time in
the minors. He failed to get the decision April 15, when he allowed
four runs and a season-high nine hits in five innings.
However, he has been steady since then, pitching through the
sixth inning in four of his last five outings and winning two of
his last three. Doubront’s start Saturday against Cleveland was his
finest of the season, as he limited the Indians to one run and
three hits over six innings of a 4-1 victory.
“We couldn’t get any offense going against Doubront. He was
pitching to both sides of the plate,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta
said. “He just neutralized all of our left-handed hitters and even
Neither team got much offense going in Wednesday’s series
opener, but the Rays produced just enough for a 2-1 win. Luke
Scott’s shallow sacrifice fly scored Matt Joyce with the deciding
run in the sixth.
Tampa Bay went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position, but
the top five spots in the Boston lineup managed one hit – a Dustin
Pedroia single – in 19 at-bats as the Red Sox (17-20) saw their
five-game winning streak snapped.
Both teams will open interleague play Friday with matchups
against NL East opponents. The Rays will host Atlanta while the Red
Sox visit Philadelphia.