The Tampa Bay Rays offense came through with 15 hits and 7 runs (despite finishing the night 3 for 20 with runners in scoring position) to back Matt Moore in his return to the mound as the Rays earned a much needed 7-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. The Rays remain 5.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox who defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-1 in the AL East race. They remain 2.5 games ahead of the New York Yankees who defeated the Chicago White Sox 4-3 by 3 games in the wild card race and pick up a game on the Oakland Athletics who lost to the Texas Rangers 5-1 and trail the top wild card spot by 2.5 games.
Matt Moore (15-3, 3.27 ERA) made his return to the mound for the first time since facing the New York Yankees back on July 28th due to a sore elbow. Any concerns about his arm were alleviated in the first inning when he threw fastball, changeup, and curveball and touched 95 mph on his fastball.
Since only making 75 pitches in his lone rehab start Joe Maddon had hoped to get 5 innings out of Moore and he got his wish plus some. In 5.1 innings of work he held the Angels to 1R/0ER on 4 hits striking out 6, walking 4, and uncorking a wild pitch.
He threw 94 pitches of which 57.4% were strikes (54 of 94). He threw 52 four seam fastballs, 22 change ups, and 20 curveballs. The average velocity on his fastball was 92.8 mph topping out at 95.7 mph.
Roberto Hernandez came in relief of Matt Moore with 1-on and 1-out in the bottom of the 6th and struck out the first 5 hitters he faced. He looked in command of all of his pitches with nasty downward movement. He ended the night working the final 3.2 scoreless innings allowing no hits striking out 7 and picked up his first career save.
Last week Jason Vargas (8-6, 3.80 ERA) held the Rays scoreless for 7 innings allowing just 2 hits striking out 7 and walking 3. The Rays did not face the same Vargas tonight as they knocked him out after the first two hitters reached in the 5th. In his 4+ innings of work he allowed 5R/ER on 10 hits walking 2 and striking out 2.
The offense jumped out to a 1-0 lead against Jason Vargas in the 2nd inning. James Loney led off the inning with a single and advanced to 3rd on a Wil Myers double. Kelly Johnson sent a slow roller to first to drive Loney in from 3rd and moved Myers up to 3rd with 1-0ut.
The lead quickly evaporated as Erick Aybar led off the bottom of the second with a double over Kelly Johnson’s head. Luis Jimenez did not advance Aybar as he grounded to 3rd for the first out. Peter Bourjos drew a 1-out walk. Collin Cowgill sent a slow roller to Yunel Escobar who got the force out at 2nd base but Ben Zobrist throw skipped by James Loney which allowed Aybar to score all the way from 2nd to tie the game at 1-1.
Desmond Jennings put the Rays back on top 2-1 in the top of the 3rd and it appeared the Rays were poised to score more. After Jennings homer Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria walked and Delmon Young singled to load the bases. The rally was cut short when James Loney hit a grounder to 3rd to begin the 5-2-3 double play and Wil Myers struck out to end the inning.
The Rays tacked on with 2 runs in the 4th inning to jump out to a 4-1 lead. Kelly Johnson led off with a sharp single and advanced to 2nd on an 1-out infield hit by Yunel Escobar. Desmond Jennings was unable to deliver a key hit as he popped out to 3rd for the 2nd out in the inning. Ben Zobrist gave the Rays offense a boost shooting a double into the left field corner to score both Johnson and Escobar.
Delmon Young led off the 5th inning with a single and advanced to 3rd on a single by James Loney. Jason Vargas was removed from the game for Juan Gutierrez. The first batter he faced was Wil Myers who sent a grounder to shortstop Erick Aybar who fired home to nail Delmon Young trying to score. He retired Kelly Johnson on a fly out to center but Jose Lobaton singled to center to drive in Loney from 2nd but Myers was thrown out at 3rd to end the inning.
Yunel Escobar took Gutierrez first pitch in the top of the 6th to right center field for a homer to give the Rays a 6-1 lead.
The Rays extended their lead to 7-1 as Wil Myers led off the 7th inning with a double. It was the 6th consecutive inning the Rays leadoff hitter had reached base. With 1-out Jose Lobaton grounded out to first baseman Mark Trumbo as Myers advance to 3rd. He came in to score on a wild pitch by Joe Blanton.
The Rays will send Jeremy Hellickson (10-8, 5.21 ERA) to the mound tomorrow at 10:05 to match up against Jared Weaver (9-7, 3.30 ERA).