ST. PETERSBURG — The Matt Moore that entered last season for Tampa Bay as one of the early favorites for the Rookie of the Year award showed promise but was mostly inconsistent.
The left-hander struck out plenty but the number of pitches on his left arm added up quickly, forcing him to be removed from the game early, often in the fifth or sixth inning.
But after one full year in the majors, the 23-year-old has looked more like a seasoned veteran in this month, especially after a 5-1 victory against New York on Monday at Tropicana Field.
Moore became the first player in team history to win his first four starts, but watched his ERA rise to 1.04. He struck out nine in eight innings while allowing two hits.
“I was able to get ahead with my fastball and then use my offspeed pitches when I meant to use them,” Moore said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Moore’s outing was the best this season, adding that his best two innings may have been in the seventh and eighth.
“Tonight was the first night I thought he put everything together,” Maddon said of Moore, whose only complete game was a no-hitter in the minors. “The overarching thing tonight was his fastball command, and that is why he went eight innings.”
Historically, April had been a rough month for Moore both in the minors and last year with the Rays (he had a 4.68 ERA). He said he didn’t consciously make any adjustments to his game but certainly wasn’t complaining about the hot start.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, even in high school,” Moore said. “I feel like a lot of it’s just feeding off each other. … I think it may be comfortability, I don’t really know what it is to speak of right now.”
The only real blemish in the outing came in the fourth inning when three-time reigning Silver Slugger winner Robinson Cano crushed a ball over the fence in right, the first hit Moore allowed.
Tampa Bay’s bats came alive early on, giving Moore some much-needed run support. Ryan Roberts hit the first of his two homers in the first, which was followed by a single by Evan Longoria.
Sean Rodriguez tripled him in before Yunel Escobar hit his own long ball, making it 4-0.
Roberts found the left field seats again in the third, the third home run Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia allowed in the game after allowing just one this season entering it.
ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay starting pitcher David Price stood at his locker on Monday, calmly taking questions as he always does a day before his start.
The routine remained unchanged and his answers were as nonchalant as ever, showcasing his trademark grin that has helped him become one of the favorites among Rays fans.
Helping that popularity was his status as one of the best left-handers in baseball, a reality reinforced by his Cy Young Award last season, the first in franchise history.
Through his first four starts this season, that success has been missing. Price is winless with an 0-1 record; the 16 earned runs given up in April are more than he had in any month last year, and he isn’t happy about it. Read More…
PUNTA GORDA — Pierre Ouellet moves nearly effortlessly through the water of the pool at the South County Regional Park.
He glides across the water, creating little wake and few splashes in the sun-splashed surface.
His shoulders are large and his biceps even bigger. His dark hair is cut into a small but noticeable mohawk. A clenched jaw and stern browline projects a quiet but strong intensity inherent in a world-class athlete. Read More…
RIVERVIEW — A theory in many sports is that if an athlete wears bright shoes, they will look like they run faster on film.
North Port High School’s Ro’Derick Spears probably would have looked fast no matter what color he was wearing Wednesday.
Clad with bright yellow shoes and socks to match, Spears won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and was the final leg in the winning 400-meter relay, helping the Bobcat boys win the District 4A-7 meet at Spoto High School. Read More…
ST. PETERSBURG — Don Zimmer still has fond memories of April 13, 1955.
Though he didn’t play for Brooklyn that day against Pittsburgh, Zimmer could never forget seeing teammates Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodgers, Roy Campanella, Carl Erskine and others help the Dodgers win 6-1 that Wednesday at Ebbets Field.
That was Zimmer’s first opening fay, 58 years ago. Zimmer, 82, still can’t help but feel a special feeling to the sport.
“If Lou Gehrig is the luckiest man in the world, I’m the second luckiest,” Zimmer, a senior advisor for Tampa Bay, said prior to the club’s opener against Baltimore. Read More…