Monday, July 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Matt Moore looks for better things against Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Matt Moore, who makes his 10th start of the season today, is not at all pleased with his first nine.

He faces the Yankees with a 1-3 record and a 5.47 ERA. His past four starts have been especially rough — 0-1, 8.53 ERA. Moore has not pitched more than five innings in any of those four outings.

"I definitely expect more out of myself, especially the last four," Moore said. "I know that there's more in the tank when I'm leaving the game, and I also know there is higher quality stuff to come out when I'm in the game. Would I say I'm not satisfied? No doubt. I'm sure I can do much better."

Moore said the problem is he's falling behind too many hitters.

"I think in the last couple of starts there has definitely been some moments where I could have done a much better job of just being in the moment maybe," Moore said, "and I'm looking to turn it around at this point."

One reason for that, Moore said, is he's not throwing his secondary pitches for quality strikes.

"Being able to make those pitches more attractive to the hitters but not be in the meat of the zone," he said. "Everything does go off fastball command and when I am able to get that in the zone with quality even if my offspeed is a little less, it seems to get the trick done."

Kiermaier begins comeback: CF Kevin Kiermaier (left hand fracture) began exercises with his hand Thursday and started shoulder exercises Friday. There is one catch: He can't sweat or he risks an infection in the incision caused by the surgery.

"Whenever they see a little lather going on they're going to say, 'No, shut it down for a little bit.' Just some shoulder exercises," Kiermaier said. "It won't be anything crazy."

Kiermaier expects the stitches to be removed Wednesday and should have the all-clear to resume sweating by the end of next week. As for his return to the lineup, he's sticking with the original 8 to 10 weeks.

"Could be a little sooner," he said. "Just depends on how the healing process goes. I'm going to do whatever I can to get back as soon as possible. This down time is going to eat at me."

Hope is a dangerous word: The Rays headed into the Memorial Day weekend three games under .500 and in last place in the AL East. Given the performance of the starting rotation, manager Kevin Cash was asked if that gives him "hope" the Rays can turn things around.

"(Pitching coach) Jim Hickey always says hope's a bad theory," Cash said. "We're confident our pitching is going to turn it around here. They're too talented not to. … I don't think as a group we got on the same page where the offense and pitching has clicked well."

Boxberger nearing return: RHP Brad Boxberger (adductor surgery) pitches two-thirds of an innings in another minor league rehab appearance Friday for Double A Montgomery in what was expected to be his last rehab appearance before he rejoins the team. "We'll factor in everything, but most will be how he feels," Cash said.

Rest for Souza: RF Steven Souza Jr., with one hit in his past 12 at-bats, did not start against Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka. "Just getting him off his feet," Cash said. "He's been playing a lot."

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