The Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Moore entered 2012 with lofty
expectations after two overpowering big-league starts last
The highly touted left-hander, though, hasn’t exactly lived up
to the billing thus far.
With Moore looking to get on track and B.J. Upton expected to
make his season debut, Tampa Bay tries for a ninth consecutive
regular-season home victory as it opens a three-game set with the
struggling Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Moore (0-1, 5.54 ERA), who in his first career start struck out
11 over five innings during a 15-8 win at Yankee Stadium on Sept.
22, went on to throw seven innings of two-hit ball in a 9-0 victory
at Texas in last season’s AL division series.
It’s safe to say the 22-year-old, however, has had a difficult
time duplicating those results early on.
After giving up two runs, four hits and five walks over 6 2-3
innings of 5-2 loss at Detroit on April 10, Moore was tagged for
six, eight and four, respectively, over 6 1-3 innings of Sunday’s
6-4 defeat at Boston.
“I haven’t seen too many swings like that against (Moore),”
catcher Chris Gimenez, who suggested Moore may have been tipping
his pitches, told the team’s official website. “We don’t know if
they (knew what was coming ahead of time) or not. Something we have
to keep in the back of our heads.”
While the Rays (7-6) have provided Moore with just six runs of
support, they enter this six-game homestand hot at the plate. After
falling 7-3 at Toronto on Tuesday, Tampa Bay scored a combined 21
runs over its last two games to take that series – including
Thursday’s 9-4 win.
Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria each homered and went a
combined 6 for 9 with six RBIs.
“It’s a relief to finally hit another one,” said Longoria, who
hadn’t homered since opening day. ” … Like I’ll always say, it’s
about winning. We’ve got some good momentum going home.”
The Rays should also receive a boost with Upton expected to be
activated from the 15-day DL. He’s been out since colliding with
Jennings in the outfield during spring training March 14.
“B.J. definitely makes us a better team,” manager Joe Maddon
said. ” … It may take a little time to get him going, based on a
sporadic Spring Training and then going on the rehab assignment,
but it’s good to get him back. Makes everything better. Makes our
defense better, adds more speed to the bases and a power bat.
Definite improvement for us.”
In the midst of a seven-game trek, the Twins (4-9) are coming
off a four-game split with the Yankees after falling 7-6 on
“A disappointing night that we couldn’t get this third game from
them. But we’ll take the effort,” said manager Ron Gardenhire,
whose team dropped to 2-5 with a 5.74 ERA on the road.
Scheduled to take the mound for Minnesota is Liam Hendriks (0-0,
1.50), who was added to the rotation with Scott Baker (elbow) done
for the season. After missing his first start due to food
poisoning, the Twins’ 2011 minor league pitcher of the year
surrendered one run and seven hits over six innings but didn’t
factor in the decision of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to Texas.
“I felt strong but I thought I was getting a little bit tired,”
Hendriks told the Twins’ official website. “But that’s going to
happen after you’re hospitalized and you miss a start.”
Tampa Bay, which opened its season with a three-game sweep of
the Yankees at Tropicana Field, last won nine a row at home June
24-July 10, 2009.