Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays shut out Indians

ST. PETERSBURG — Left-hander Matt Moore has talked about shedding the "slow starter" label that has followed him throughout his career.

Friday's 4-0 win over the Indians seemed like a pretty good indication he's on the right track.

"I would say so," he said with a smile.

Moore allowed just two hits and struck out eight in six innings, combining with three relievers to retire the final 17 Indians in a brisk, 2-hour, 21-minute game in front of 16,109 at Tropicana Field.

"That was awesome," Rays ace David Price said. "Back to the 'Rays Way.' "

The Rays (2-2) allowed at least six runs in all three games against the Orioles — largely due to red-hot first baseman Chris Davis — in the season-opening series. But they followed their formula Friday, including another errorless game and big hits by rightfielder Ben Zobrist.

"It feels good for us to have a combined shutout like that," Moore said. "It's something we've really worked toward every game. And to have the first one of the year on my night feels nice."

Moore's struggles during spring training stemmed from his inability to get a feel for his fastball. He said it clicked during the final exhibition game, when he found the right tempo for his delivery, and it carried over Friday.

In doing so, Moore — who posted a 4.52 ERA in April and May over his first six pro seasons — matched his amount of wins from the first two months last year.

"He looked good. He looked confident, and he got better," manager Joe Maddon said. "He was able to throw a strike when he wanted to with the fastball, which I think is very important for him."

Said Zobrist: "He was everything we needed him to be — and more."

Zobrist supplied the offense with two doubles and three RBIs, his third multiple-RBI game of the season. He said his experience with Team USA at the World Baseball Classic, getting "pressure packed" at-bats before the season, has sparked his hot start.

Zobrist, passed by Evan Longoria on the bases in a ninth-inning controversy Thursday against the Orioles, had no such problem Friday; not with speedy Sam Fuld in front of him. Fuld, who had two hits, scored from first on both Zobrist doubles, continuing to show no signs of a hamstring issue that hampered him during the spring.

"After he scored for the second time, he's like, 'Man, you're really testing me out right there with my legs,' " Zobrist said. "I was like, 'Yeah, you're doing a great job scoring for me.' "

The Rays bullpen picked up where Moore left off. Lefty Jake McGee pitched a perfect seventh, bouncing back from a rough first outing Tuesday, when he allowed five runs in an opening day loss.

"It was great to get back out there," McGee said, "and start something new."

Brandon Gomes, called up Friday to replace injured Jeff Niemann, looked like he did in a spectacular spring with a scoreless eighth. And Joel Peralta made sure every fan got their free pizza promotion by notching the team's 10th strikeout in the ninth. The Indians hit just five balls out of the infield.

"It was pretty boring out in the outfield," Zobrist said. "And that's a good thing."

     
                             
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