The Kansas City Royals defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 to improve their record to 32-33. The Rays have now lost 3 in a row and 5 of their last 6 games dropping their record to 35-32 while the Royals have won 9 out of 10.
Matt Moore (8-3, 4.12 ERA) took the loss working 5.1 innings allowing 5R/ER on 7 hits striking out 4 and walking 4. He made 100 pitches (59 for strikes) but only threw a first pitch strike to 14 of 27 batters . His start marked the 18th time a Rays starter had given up 5 or more earned runs which ties the total for the entire 2012 season. June has not been a kind month for him as he has made 3 starts and is 0-3 working only 12.1 innings, allowing 20R/19ER on 26 hits whiles striking out 11 and walking 11.
Moore got off to a rocky start allowing 3 of the first 4 hitters to reach base on a hit batter, walk, and RBI single. After throwing 21 pitches to get out of the first inning he was visited by Joe Maddon in the dugout. Maddon sat next to Moore and told him to “try to simplify thing mentally right now. Number one that would be great. And the next thing I reminded him of was that he was 24 he corrected me 23…I said you’re a 23 year old major league pitcher have some fun.”
The message was received and as an added bonus he came out to work the second inning with a a 2-1 lead thanks to a Matt Joyce solo home run and a RBI double by Evan Longoria which scored Ben Zobrist who had walked. Moore mowed down 9 of the next 1o Royals batters in and held the 2-1 lead into the top of the 5th inning.
Similar to Jeremy Hellickson last night things quickly unraveled for Moore whose delivery became inconsistent and the Royals offense pushed across 4 runs to take a 5-2 lead.
Jeff Francoeur led off with a single and came in to score on a triple by Elliot Johnson. Alcides Escobar hit a soft single off the glove of Ben Zobrist to plate Johnson and push the Royals a 3-2. With 1-out Eric Hosmer lined a ball into the corner for a double advancing Escobar to 3rd. Salvador Perez singled to drive in Escobar and move Hosmer to 3rd. Billy Butler hit a sacrifice fly to score Hosmer and give the Royals a 5-2 lead.
After the game Joe Maddon said of Moore’s problems with consistency on the mound and repetition with fundamentals, “It’s about simplification, not trying to do too much. Sometimes when guys are struggling a little bit with that, they’ll start over thinking their delivery and then there thinking internally and not externally and then it gets even worse. So with him its just go back to the drawing board, back to work, go through your workout with Hick (Jim Hickey) and a couple days from now try to work on a couple things. It’s going to come back to him.”
Jamey Wright replaced Moore and worked a scoreless 1.2 innings and was followed by Kyle Farnsworth who worked a very impressive scoreless inning. Fernando Rodney worked the 9th inning and allowed 2R/ER on 3 hits giving the Royals a 7-2 lead.
The Rays offense was unable to capitalize on the chances they were given to push across runs as they went o for 9 with runners in scoring position. They have now hit .130 (6 for 46) with runners in scoring position over their last 5 games.
The Royals pitching staff entered the game with an AL best 3.40 team ERA and had set a franchise record as a pitching staff by limiting the opposition to 3 earned runs or less in 12 consecutive games. Luis Medina and a trio of Royals relievers extended that streak to 13 games in a row. Luis Mendoza (2-3, 4.08 ERA) earned the victory and worked the first 6 innings allowing 2R/ER on 6 hits while striking out 3 and walking 2. The Royals bullpen combined to hold the Rays scoreless over the final 3 innings allowing 0 hits and 2 walks.
For the fourth time in as many games against the Rays the Royals offense batted around in an inning. The Royals are 4-0 versus the Ray and have scored 7, 8, 9, and 10 runs in the 4 games. Former Rays infielder Elliot Johnson has torched his former squad this season hitting .533 (8 for 15) with 2 home runs and 5 RBI while only hitting .202 with 0 home runs and 3 RBI against everyone else. Johnson, Jeff Francouer, and Salvador Perez had two hits apiece.
The Royals jumped ahead 1-0 in the top of the first inning. Matt Moore opened the game by hitting Alex Gordon and walking Eric Hosmer and after retiring Salvador Perez gave up an RBI single to Billy Butler scoring Gordon and moving Hosmer over to 3rd base. Moore then fielded a ground ball off the bat of Lorenzo Cain and turned and fired to second for the force out. Hosmer tried to come home from third to score but Ben Zobrist fired to Jose Lobaton in plenty of time to nail Hosmer and end the inning.