After an up-and-down rookie campaign, Matt Moore is hoping to make significant strides in 2013.
He's headed down the right path if his season debut is any indication.
Considered one of the top prospects in baseball in 2011, Moore had an uneven first half of 2012 before going 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA in his first eight starts after the All-Star break. He failed to win any of his next five, posting a 6.14 ERA, before winning his season finale by holding the White Sox to one hit in 5 1-3 scoreless innings.
The 23-year-old Moore had a similarly impressive performance to win Friday, allowing two hits and striking out eight over six innings of a 4-0 victory over Cleveland.
"It was the perfect time to get him out - 100 pitches, six innings," manager Joe Maddon said. "He goes home feeling really good about himself. That's a great game for him to build on."
Moore, whose 4.11 walks per nine innings last year was the seventh-highest mark in baseball, only issued two free passes against the Indians.
"My mindset this entire week while preparing has been to stay with that same tempo from the last start," Moore told MLB's official website. "I just want to stay with the things that were working for me last week."
The Rangers (6-2) know all too well of Moore's ability. The only two times he faced them both came in the 2011 AL division series, going 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA as he allowed three hits in 10 innings.
Moore, though, could have his hands full this time around with the Texas offense on a roll. The Rangers have outscored opponents 36-18 during a 6-1 run and improved to 4-1 at home with Tuesday's 6-1 victory.
Lance Berkman went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, raising his average to .480.
The Rays will try to get back on track against Holland (0-0, 2.57), who impressed in his first start as he gave up two runs over seven innings of Friday's 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels .
"I'm very happy," he said. "Overall, the performance was great. I gave us a chance to win, and the guys came through for me. If I keep doing this and giving my team a chance to win, it's going to be a great season."
Including playoffs, Holland is 5-2 over nine starts against the Rays despite a 5.03 ERA. He allowed two hits and struck out a career-high 11 over eight innings of one-run ball in his last outing against them, a 3-1, 11-inning loss Sept. 7.
Holland will need to be cautious with Longoria, who has gone 11 for 26 with four homers and five doubles in their matchups, including playoffs.
"We joke around with each other when I see him. It's like I throw him beach balls," Holland said. "I just have to go out and execute my pitches. Do the same thing I did in my last start and everything will fall into place."
Zobrist has also fared well against Holland, with seven hits - four for extra bases - in his last 21 at-bats against him, including the postseason.
The Rangers haven't swept the Rays since July 3-5, 2009, in Texas.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|April 05, 2013||Jeff Niemann||15-Day DL||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|March 31, 2013||Juan Carlos Oviedo||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 24, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|April 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Left game - blister|
|March 24, 2013||Neftali Feliz||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Joakim Soria||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Martin Perez||15-Day DL||Cracked ulna bone, left forearm|
|March 22, 2013||Colby Lewis||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 03, 2013||Martin Perez||Day-to-Day||Fractured left forearm|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- When Ben Zobrist caught a flyball in deep right field, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was more concerned about the runner who was going to third base.
Zobrist instead made a perfect throw to home plate for a double play to end the Texas eighth inning, and the Rays held on for a 2-0 victory Wednesday, winning the finale of what had been a difficult three-game series in Texas.
"Especially in a big situation, where we're trying to prevent runs, especially going into the ninth, it felt great," Zobrist said. "It was exciting, and warmed me up just a little bit."
Matt Moore (2-0) combined with four relievers on a five-hitter and the Rays got their only runs on a fielder's choice grounder by Zobrist and a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria to win the coldest day game ever at Rangers Ballpark.
It was only 39 degrees when the game started after a rain delay of 1 hour, 29 minutes. That was 40 degrees colder than Tuesday night.
Texas had runners at second and third with one out in the eighth when pinch-hitter Leonys Martin hit the fly to right. Adrian Beltre tagged up from third base, and David Murphy was ready to advance from second.
"I was really surprised on Zo's throw. I did not think he had a shot, I thought it was too deep," Maddon said. "But he made an absolutely perfect throw and (catcher Jose Lobaton ) did a nice job on the other end."
Texas, which had won six of seven since its season-opening loss at Houston, also appeared to have a run in the sixth. Mitch Moreland , the third batter after Moore left the game, beat out an inning-ending double-play grounder.
Moreland had already been signaled safe and Nelson Cruz had crossed home plate when interference was called against Jeff Baker at second. Baker slid away from the bag and into the path of shortstop Yunel Escobar , who double-clutched before making the relay throw.
"It was obvious (Baker) made no intent to get to the bag," said Rangers manager Ron Washington , who did go out to discuss the call with second base umpire Marty Foster. "He may have done that, but that had no effect on why (Escobar) double- or triple-clutched on the throw."
That inning-ending play was much different than the game-ending strike in Monday night's series opener that Texas won 5-4. That game ended with Zobrist batting when Foster was behind home plate and called strike three on a full-count curveball low and outside - a call the ump later admitted he got wrong.
"The last two days were tough days, tough losses for us," Zobrist said. "But getting a win going into an off day certainly feels a lot better, albeit how cold it was and how we didn't necessarily kill the ball."
Longoria had a sacrifice fly in the fifth for Tampa Bay, which had lost three in a row and on Thursday has its only day off in a 27-day span to start the season. The Rays start a four-game series at Boston on Friday.
Derek Holland (0-1) limited the Rays to two runs and five hits over eight innings. The Texas lefty struck out four and walked three, all those walks coming in the third to load the bases before Zobrist's grounder.
Moore limited Texas to a single and struck out five, but had six walks and threw 106 pitches - 52 of them balls with two wild pitches - in his 5 1-3 innings. He benefited from two double-play grounders, one soon after he came out of the game.
"Where the big pitches that really needed to be made, I was locked into those moments," Moore said. "From that, we can be happy with what the results were."
Cesar Ramos , Jake McGee , Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney finished out Tampa Bay's third shutout of the season. Rodney got his first save.
The only other time Moore pitched in Texas was the 2011 AL division series opener, when he threw seven scoreless innings for the Rays. He threw six shutout frames against Cleveland last week in his first start this season.
Holland's first walk was to No. 9 hitter Kelly Johnson leading off the third. Johnson eventually scored when Zobrist beat out a throw to first that prevented an inning-ending double play.
"I felt like I had better command of my fastball. I got a little erratic (in the third)," Holland said. "I went out there and battled. I'm not going to sit here and beat myself up about it. ... It definitely was cold, but I've got to make my pitches and he's got to make his pitches."
NOTES: The only colder start at Rangers Ballpark, which is in its 20th season, was a night game against Boston on April 7, 2007, when it was 38 degrees. Texas is more known for the summer heat. Just two seasons ago, the temperature was at least 100 degrees for 27 games at the park. ... Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux had to go to the dentist when a crown came loose. That's why bullpen coach Andy Hawkins visited Holland on the mound in the third. Maddux was back in the dugout soon after that.