Thanks to a decision by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, the pitcher that has been toughest to hit in baseball will get a chance to face the hitter with the best average.
Maddon could have used Moore on Sunday in Cleveland after the left-hander was limited to one 11-pitch inning Friday before that outing was cut short due to rain in a 9-2 victory over the Indians. The manager chose to start the budding star Tuesday instead, creating this enticing matchup.
"But there's the off day (Monday), so why really push it?" Maddon told the Rays' official website.
Moore (8-0, 2.18 ERA) is limiting hitters to a .178 average for the best mark in baseball, while reigning AL MVP Cabrera leads the majors with a .367 average and 65 RBIs.
The only time these two met was April 10, 2012. Cabrera lined out once and walked twice as Moore gave up two runs over 6 2-3 innings and did not get a decision in a 5-2 loss in his only career outing versus Detroit.
The Tigers (30-25) have lost seven of 12 games when opponents start left-handers, although Cabrera is hitting .417 against them and Jhonny Peralta .412 for the AL's best marks. Prince Fielder is a .359 hitter versus left-handers and 0 for 2 against Moore.
Strangely, Detroit is searching for offense after losing five of six. Outside of Saturday's 10-3 victory in Baltimore, the Tigers have scored 10 runs in that span.
While Detroit averages 5.2 runs to lead the majors, Tampa Bay (31-25) is not far behind at 5.0. The Rays have been even hotter with a major league-best 6.1 runs per game since May 17 while winning 11 of 16.
"One through nine, we feel pretty good about scoring runs right now," Maddon said.
While top hitters James Loney and Evan Longoria are both batting lower than .255 in this stretch, Matt Joyce is hitting .340 and Kelly Johnson .321 with that duo combining for 28 RBIs over the last 16 games.
"I think there's plenty of talent and potential, but it's nice to see when guys come together as a team and start finding that groove," Johnson said.
Anibal Sanchez (5-5, 2.79), 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA in five home starts, will be tasked with slowing down the Rays. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.78 ERA in four career starts against them, although Johnson is 5 for 26 against him.
Sanchez had yielded one run over 15 innings before Pittsburgh scored four times off him in the seventh inning Wednesday in a 5-3 loss. He was charged with five runs total.
"I think I missed some pitches and they hit them," said Sanchez, limiting hitters to a .168 average at Comerica Park. "I take responsibility, that's part of the game."
Detroit is 10-3 against Tampa Bay over the last two seasons, with Cabrera hitting .364 with 11 walks.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 15, 2013||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left tricep tightness|
|May 08, 2013||Brandon Gomes||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|May 04, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 27, 2013||Jose Molina||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|April 25, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|May 12, 2013||Austin Jackson||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 26, 2013||Phil Coke||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|April 26, 2013||Phil Coke||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|April 21, 2013||Octavio Dotel||Day-to-Day||Elbow inflammation|
|April 20, 2013||Octavio Dotel||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|April 09, 2013||Victor Martinez||Day-to-Day||Lacerated right thumb|
DETROIT (AP) -- Torii Hunter noticed early on that something was amiss with Tampa Bay left-hander Matt Moore .
"I saw him throw the curveball a couple times, and I saw that he didn't have a feel for that," Hunter said. "This guy has great stuff - his changeup, his arm action is the same as the fastball, coming out of his arm. Just the fact that we were able to capitalize on his mistakes - we have a professional team over here. They make the adjustments and battle at the plate."
Prince Fielder homered and drove in four runs, and the Detroit Tigers handed Moore his first loss of the year with a 10-1 victory over the Rays on Tuesday night.
Fielder also hit a two-run single that capped a four-run second inning for the Tigers. Moore got only six outs while allowing six runs, seven hits and six walks.
Moore (8-1) was pitching on three days' rest after his previous start in Cleveland was limited to one inning because of rain.
"In the second inning, I just lost my release point. That's happened before, and I've got a couple tricks that I can use to get it back, but nothing worked today," Moore said. "I wasn't throwing anything close enough to the strike zone to make them swing at anything."
Anibal Sanchez (6-5) allowed a run and four hits in seven innings. He struck out nine with one walk.
Omar Infante homered and had three RBIs for Detroit, which won for the second time in seven games. It was Tampa Bay's second loss in nine.
Fielder and Jhonny Peralta had three hits each for the Tigers.
The Rays got a run in the second to open the scoring, but Moore immediately allowed a single to Peralta and an RBI double to Matt Tuiasosopo in the bottom half. Infante made it 2-1 with a sacrifice fly, and after two-out walks to Hunter and Miguel Cabrera , Fielder singled with the bases loaded.
"It was a great night," Tuiasosopo said. "He has some great secondary pitches - a great changeup and curveball - so we really wanted to just get after his fastball and not miss that when he threw it."
The third inning wasn't any better for Moore. After a leadoff double by Peralta, he walked two straight hitters and then allowed an RBI single by Avisail Garcia . Moore was finally pulled after he walked Infante to force in a run and make it 6-1.
Alex Torres came on with the bases loaded and nobody out, but he prevented any further damage by striking out Cabrera and Fielder to end the inning.
Moore had allowed only 15 runs all season coming into the game.
Sanchez, meanwhile, has also been impressive this year - although he doesn't have Moore's flashy won-loss record. Sanchez struck out 17 batters against Atlanta in April, and he had a no-hitter broken up in the ninth inning against Minnesota on May 24.
After that 130-pitch outing, Sanchez was knocked around a bit in a loss at Pittsburgh last week. He had an extra day of rest before facing the Rays and looked sharp from the start.
"No matter how many runs we score ... I don't want to allow any runs," Sanchez said. "If we make a lot of runs, the other team can do it, too, so we have to keep the same game."
Evan Longoria led off the second with a triple to right-center and scored on a sacrifice fly by Desmond Jennings , but Tampa Bay's offense didn't threaten much after that.
Infante's solo homer made it 7-1 in the fifth. The following inning, Cabrera went from first to third on a wild pitch when catcher Jose Molina was slow to come up with the ball back by the screen. Molina had his left arm checked after the play but stayed in the game.
Fielder drove in Cabrera with a sacrifice fly, and his 12th homer of the season - a solo shot in the eighth - made it 9-1. Don Kelly added an RBI single later in the inning.
NOTES: Tampa Bay announced after the game it had agreed to a minor league deal with C Jesus Flores . ... Hunter's hitting streak ended at 11 games. ... Detroit RHP Doug Fister (5-2) faces Tampa Bay RHP Alex Cobb (6-2) on Wednesday night.