Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Moore falters again in Rays' loss to Royals

ST. PETERSBURG — For the past several years, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he could step into the dugout on a nightly basis and feel good about how his starter would stack up against the other side.

But Maddon admits he hasn't had that feeling in a while. He said it has been awkward and difficult to watch his rotation, typically the envy of baseball, struggle so much in an "epidemic" he hasn't endured since the Devil Rays days of 2006-07.

"It's been a while," he said.

That troubling trend continued in Friday's 7-2 loss to the Royals in front of 13,407 at Tropicana Field, with left-hander Matt Moore laboring for a third straight start. Tampa Bay (35-32) has lost five of its past six games, including five of the first eight on the current homestand.

"It's very difficult," Maddon said. "We can talk about our offense all we want, but until we start pitching like we can, it's going to be tough to get on a nice roll. We have to pitch a lot better to get to the spot where we want to this year."

Rays starters already have 18 starts in which they've allowed five earned runs or more, matching their total for the 2012 season, and their 20 games of five-plus runs are second most in the majors (Giants, 23).

"It's different," outfielder Matt Joyce said. "We're not used to those guys struggling."

On Friday it was Moore, who was charged with five runs in just 5⅓ innings and has given up 20 combined in what he called a "pretty disappointing" three-start losing streak after beginning the year 8-0.

"I'm not overtly worried about it," Maddon said. "(Moore) is going to be a very, very, very, very good major-league pitcher; already is. It's just a little bit frustrating to watch that right now, and it's becoming somewhat of an epidemic among the group."

This one got away from Moore quickly. He thought he was cruising after getting out of a first-inning jam with just one run, thanks to starting an inning-ending 1-4-2 double play. Moore then retired eight straight Royals and was staked with a 2-1 lead thanks to a first-inning homer by Joyce and an RBI double by designated hitter Evan Longoria.

But Moore was felled by a big inning, much like Jeremy Hellickson was in an eight-run sixth Thursday. Moore allowed four runs in the fifth, which started with a single by Jeff Francoeur and an RBI triple by former Ray Elliot Johnson.

"It just kind of got out of control at that point," Maddon said.

Moore's command was off, and he was abnormally hot, saying he was so soaked with sweat he changed his uniform pants between the fourth and the fifth. But he said that had nothing to do with his change in fortune.

"Getting first and second with no outs, that's a tough situation to get out of without scoring any runs," Moore said. "Regardless, I've got to do much better than putting up a four-spot."

The Rays blew an opportunity to come back in the seventh when they put runners on first and third with no outs. But Jose Lobaton and Yunel Escobar struck out, and Joyce flew out.

Closer Fernando Rodney gave up two runs in the ninth as the Royals (32-33) sealed their ninth win in 10 games and extended their franchise record of 13 consecutive games of limiting opponents to three runs or fewer.

That has typically been the Rays' formula, and Moore believes they'll return to their sterling standard.

"All the starters on our staff, we're pretty good," Moore said. "I think it's just a matter of us doing what we're capable of doing, staying within ourselves. You get going on some good streaks and you have some bad streaks. So we're hoping that it ends pretty quickly."

Moore falters again in Rays' loss to Royals 06/14/13 [Last modified: Saturday, June 15, 2013 12:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  2. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  3. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  4. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  5. Jones: What Bucs need in final preseason games, more or less


    That's it. Let's start the season. Start it right now.

    Tom Jones wants to see less of Jameis Winston playing hot potato with the football and throwing it up for anyone to catch. [Getty Images]