The start of June has not been kind to Tampa Bay's Matt Moore .
After dominating for the first two months of the season, the left-hander looks to avoid a third straight losing start when he tries to help the host Rays cool off the surging Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Moore (8-2, 3.78 ERA) went 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his first 11 starts, which included a one-inning effort during a rain-marred 9-2 win at Cleveland on May 31.
However, since the calendar turned, Moore has allowed 15 runs, 19 hits and walked seven in seven innings to lose his last two. He lasted two innings in a 10-1 loss at Detroit on June 4, then gave up career highs of nine runs and 12 hits in five innings of a 10-7 loss to Baltimore on Sunday."The 8-0 start is obviously gone," Moore said. "It's something that, maybe, was a bit misleading I guess you could say."
A lack of command continues to plague Moore, who has yielded half of his total runs this season in June."Not bad stuff, but the location was not good," manager Joe Maddon said after Moore's last start. "This whole season, really, he has not been a command kind of a pitcher."Earlier in the season he might have been making mistakes that were not being hit. It's not like it's entirely different than early, it's just that the command right now is a little off with his off-speed stuff."
In Moore's only previous start versus Kansas City (31-33), he gave up four runs in 7 1-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-4 loss last year.
While Tampa Bay (35-31) has dropped two straight and four of five, the Royals have outscored their opponents 42-16 while winning eight of nine.
Ex-Ray Elliot Johnson had three hits, including a three-run homer for one of his two hits during Kansas City's eight-run sixth-inning in Thursday's 10-1 series-opening victory. Ervin Santana threw 7 2-3 strong innings as the Royals set a franchise record by holding an opponent to three runs or fewer in a 12th straight game."Everything is going our way right now so we have to keep that up," Santana said.
Traded by the Rays to Kansas City in February, Johnson is 6 for 11 with two homers and four RBIs in three victories versus Tampa Bay this year. He's batting .202 with three RBIs in his other 39 games played in 2013.
"It's good to get them anyway you can, but it feels good to get them against them, of course," Johnson said.
Teammate Luis Mendoza (1-3, 4.19) takes the mound looking to build on his best outing of the season. He allowed four hits in seven innings, but didn't factor in the decision of a 2-0 win over Houston on Sunday.
Though the right-hander last won May 13, he's posted a 2.25 ERA while going 0-1 in his last five starts. The Royals, however, have totaled 10 runs in those contests.
Mendoza is 0-1 with an 8.64 ERA in two starts versus Tampa Bay. He allowed six runs and three homers in four innings before leaving without a decision in a 9-8 home win over the Rays on May 1.
Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce is 3 for 5 with a double and a home run against Mendoza. He had two hits Thursday and is 8 for 20 (.400) in the last five games.
|Kansas City Royals|
|May 16, 2013||Jarrod Dyson||15-Day DL||Right ankle sprain|
|March 31, 2013||Danny Duffy||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|February 12, 2013||Felipe Paulino||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|June 05, 2013||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|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|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Kansas City Royals pitchers are enjoying a record-breaking run of success, and now the offense is joining in on the fun.
Luis Mendoza pitched six innings to win for the first time in six starts and Elliot Johnson had another big hit against his former team Friday night, leading the Royals to a 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays .
Mendoza (2-3) gave up two runs and seven hits and three Royals relievers pitched three hitless innings as Kansas City held a 13th straight opponent to three runs or fewer. That franchise-record streak is the longest in the American League since Toronto went 15 games from June 26 to July 13, 1991.
Johnson had a game-tying triple among his two hits and Billy Butler drove in three runs for the Royals, who have won nine of 10.
"You can't say enough good things about what our pitching staff's done," Butler said. "They've been tremendous from day one, and it's been fun to watch. It's been really fun lately to have them meshing together with the offense and defense. We're playing some good baseball right now and it's fun to come to the ballpark when you're playing like that."
Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore (8-3) gave up five runs on seven hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings with four strikeouts. He is 0-3 in five starts since winning his first eight starts of the season.
Matt Joyce hit his 13th home run, off Mendoza's third pitch of the game, and Evan Longoria drove in another run in the first inning with a double, giving the Rays a 2-1 lead. They never scored again.
"Our pitching's been phenomenal. Another game today with two runs," said Royals manager Ned Yost . "Mendy started out really shaky. He was all over the place and he was behind on everybody. ... But he really settled himself in and his command got better. To get us into the seventh inning like he did is a great job."
Johnson, who had three hits including a three-run home run on Thursday night, tied it with a triple in a four-run fifth and scored on Alcides Escobar 's single to put the Royals ahead.
Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez followed with hits and Butler, who had driven in the Royals' first run with a single, concluded the four-run inning with a sacrifice fly.
Butler drove in Kansas City's final run with a two-out single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth. It was his 517th RBI, moving him past Carlos Beltran into eighth place on the Royals' all-time list.
Perez had two of Kansas City's 10 hits and drove in two runs.
The Rays have lost five of six games in a stretch in which their starting pitchers have a 9.29 ERA.
"That is awkward for us because we normally, on a nightly basis, feel really good about your matchup, your starter versus theirs," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We haven't had that feeling in a bit."
The Royals, who lead the AL with a 3.38 ERA, have not given up as many as four runs in a game since May 31, when they lost 7-2 at Texas. They have given up 25 runs in 13 games this month.
NOTES: Longoria was the DH for the second straight game. The slugger said he has been bothered the past two weeks by plantar fasciitis. ... The Rays have signed SS Riley Unroe, their second round pick in this year's draft. His father, Tim Unroe , played five years in the majors. ... Kansas City signed non-drafted free agent C Logan Davis, the son of current Royals minor league pitching coach and one-time NL Cy Young Award winner Mark Davis .