While Matt Moore entered 2012 with very high expectations, he wasn't able to find much consistency during the first half of the season.
He could get off to a rough start to the second against a Cleveland Indians club that hit him hard just over a week ago.
Moore tries to avenge one of his more disappointing outings as the Tampa Bay Rays continue a four-game set with the visiting Indians on Tuesday night.
Considered by many to be one of baseball's most promising young pitchers, Moore (5-6, 4.42 ERA) hasn't lived up to that billing yet. Though his 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings rank among the AL's top 10, the left-hander has been plagued by poor control while walking 50 in 99 2-3 innings.
Moore was especially wild against Cleveland (46-43) in his final start before the All-Star break, yielding a season high-tying five walks along with five runs and five hits over 4 2-3 innings of a 7-3 road loss July 7.
"He's young and has great stuff, but still a little inconsistent," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We ran his pitch count up early and had a lot of good at-bats. You need to stay focused against a guy like him."
That outing was especially disheartening given that Cleveland is 10-17 against left-handed starters this year, but the 23-year-old Moore is trying to learn from his struggles.
"I've had nine days off between starts, so I've had some recollection of what's been going on," Moore told the Rays' official website. "I've definitely been looking at some film, just trying to stay consistent with my delivery. They hit five doubles off me. I looked back at some tape and figured out a couple hot spots for the zone."
Moore has to like his chances of bouncing back at home, where he's compiled a 1.80 ERA during a three-start winning streak. Tampa Bay, though, has posted a 12-21 record at Tropicana Field since winning 13 of its first 14 games there.
Hitting just .202 with runners in scoring position during a 6-12 stretch overall, the Rays (46-44) went 2 for 10 in such situations during Monday's 3-2 series-opening loss. Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis each had two hits and an RBI.
"These guys have been able to win close ballgames the whole year," Acta said. "They'll fight, they'll fight and fight."
Batting .383 with five homers and 19 runs scored in his last 24 games, Choo has gone 12 for 30 (.400) with a pair of long balls during an eight-game hitting streak against Tampa Bay.
Josh Tomlin (5-5, 5.45) returns to the mound after having his way with the Rays in his last start July 5. The right-hander gave up one run and two hits over seven innings of a 3-1 victory, earning his first win in three starts in this series.
"The inconsistency this year for me has been the biggest disappointment," he told his team's official website. "Last year, I felt like I could go out there every start and figure out a way to pitch deep into the game. That hasn't happened as much this year. Hopefully I can pick it up from here, and hopefully this continues for the rest of the season."
If his recent road efforts are any indication, Tomlin could have difficulty building on his last performance. He is 1-2 with an 11.77 ERA over his last three outings away from home, with opponents hitting .404 and taking him deep six times.
|June 30, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||15-Day DL||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 29, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||Day-to-Day||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 05, 2012||Jose Lopez||Day-to-Day||Sore lower back|
|May 27, 2012||Jack Hannahan||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 27, 2012||Jack Hannahan||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 26, 2012||Carlos Santana||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 17, 2012||Matt Joyce||Day-to-Day||Flu|
|June 15, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||15-Day DL||Right shoulder fatigue|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said Matt Moore showed some growth in his wild outing. More importantly, it ended in a Rays victory.
Moore won despite control issues, Carlos Pena homered and the Rays beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Moore (6-6) allowed two runs and three hits, but walked five in five-plus innings. The rookie left-hander was coming off a five-walk - in 4 2-3 innings - loss at Cleveland on July 7.
"Matty was not really sharp with his fastball command," Maddon said. "Breaking ball was kind of a moot point, it was pretty much getting outs with his fastball when he could."
Pena hit a two-run homer and Luke Scott had an RBI triple off Josh Tomlin (5-6) as the Rays took a 3-0 first-inning lead.
Tomlin gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.
"It was tough putting guys in a hole like that," Tomlin said. "I've got to do a better job of limiting the damage, especially the first inning."
Moore was pulled after giving up a leadoff walk in the sixth to Carlos Santana . Wade Davis entered and got three quick outs, including Shelley Duncan 's double play.
"I wasn't going the distance I needed to go tonight, but pitching out of jams like that does take a lot out (of you)," Moore said.
Davis and Joel Peralta each threw 1 1-3 hitless innings. Burke Badenhop got an out before Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 27th save and completed the four-hitter.
Rodney gave up a two-out single to Casey Kotchman , but then got a fly to right from pinch-hitter Travis Hafner on the first pitch.
Asdrubal Cabrera , mired in a 1-for-26 slide, opened the fourth with single for the Indians' first hit. After Moore issued consecutive walks to Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley , Jose Lopez cut the deficit to 3-1 on a sacrifice fly.
The Rays starter avoided further damage by striking out Santana and getting a flyball from Duncan.
"We couldn't do much offensively," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "I thought we had enough traffic out there. Just couldn't execute. Just couldn't get that hit to get us over the hump."
Kipnis made it 3-2 on a run-scoring single in the fifth. Later in the inning Lopez hit a high fly to left after Cleveland had loaded the bases with two outs.
"Lopez just missed that ball," Maddon said. "I'm not going to deny that. He almost crushed that ball. But (Moore) did pitch through it. When you're faced with that kind of situation, you have to work through it and I thought he held his own pretty well right there."
Desmond Jennings stole second on a close play with two outs in the sixth and then scored to make it 4-2 on Jose Lobaton 's RBI single.
It was just the third career stolen base off Tomlin, and the first since Kansas City had a double steal on Sept. 19, 2010.
"The guy was out at second base, but what are you going to do?" Acta said. "You can't blame it on the umpire. I didn't find anything tricky about the play. Throw beat the guy, clean tag, out. He didn't see it that way. (Said) that the guy got the hand in there."
NOTES: Santana has hit on the right triceps by a Rodney fastball, but was OK. ... Moore threw 90 pitches, two-thirds after the third inning. ... Tampa Bay activated OF Matt Joyce from the 15-day disabled list and optioned INF Will Rhymes to Triple-A Durham. Joyce, who went 0 for 4, missed 23 games because of a left oblique strain. ... Cleveland RHP Zach McAllister was fine one day after being hit on the top of the right forearm by a batted ball. "No issues," Acta said. ... Rays OF Sam Fuld , sidelined all season after right wrist surgery, could join the team soon from a minor league rehab assignment.