Friday, February 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Moore faces challenge against Rockies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Boston's Clay Buchholz was named the American League's April pitcher of the month, making the award, voted by league media, the first thing Rays LHP Matt Moore hasn't won this year.

Moore, who is 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA in five games, will try to extend his tremendous start tonight in the unfamiliar, and at times uncomfortable, setting of expansive Coors Field. Temperatures are expected to be in the 40s for much of the game. Plus, he'll get to hit against the Rockies and also not have the usual amount of downtime in the dugout between innings.

But Moore doesn't plan to do anything different from what has worked.

"I think staying in the moment and taking it pitch to pitch, just very simple-minded thoughts," he said. "Just worry about this pitch, forget about the last one and stay aggressive. A couple of those small things kind of help me keep things out of my mind."

Moore expects about 20 friends and relatives to make the trip from New Mexico, where he went to high school and his family still lives.

Moore is looking to become only the fifth pitcher since 2008 to start his season with six wins in six starts, including Buchholz this season.

MAKING DUE: RHP Roberto Hernandez said the cold weather wasn't an issue for him as he pitched Thursday in Kansas City, though the rain made the ball tough to grip at times. "I don't care about the weather," he said. Hernandez allowed one run on four hits and a walk over three innings before the teams were sent off the field. Manager Joe Maddon said once the delay stretched past 45 minutes, Hernandez was done for the day and LHP Cesar Ramos would have taken over had they resumed. Though Maddon said "to lose starting pitching is never a fun thing to do," it worked out better for the Rays that it happened on Hernandez's day.

MAKING UP: No makeup date was set after Thursday's cancellation of the Royals game. The teams have common off days June 3 (when the Rays are between Cleveland and Detroit), July 29 (at the end of a 10-day road trip) and Aug. 26 (between home series). Another possibility is July 18, the Thursday after the All-Star Game. "As long as we're not playing in weather like this, I don't care when we play," 3B Evan Longoria said.

REVENGE FACTOR: Former Rays INF Elliot Johnson liked facing his old team, taking advantage of his playing time for the Royals to go 3-for-7 (including a homer) plus a walk in the two completed games, and singling, stealing second and scoring the only run in Thursday's game that didn't count.

MISCELLANY: Now-Royals ace RHP James Shields was presented the 2012 Paul C. Smith Champion Award he won from the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of American, given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of professionalism on and off the field. … OF Matt Joyce has homered in three straight games for the first time in his career; the Rays tonight look to extend their team-record streak of games with homers to 17. … The Rays had won 64 consecutive games when scoring eight or more runs before Wednesday's 9-8 loss, dating to Aug. 7, 2010. … Of the Rays' three scheduled starters this weekend, only LHP David Price has a hit.

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