Rays’ Moore dominates Yankees to go 4-0

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.

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