ST. PETERSBURG — Rays left-hander Matt Moore was not named to the American League All-Star team — not yet, anyway. So Saturday he had to settle for decent consolation prizes, picking up his 12th victory and prevailing in a rematch with White Sox ace Chris Sale in the Rays' 3-0 win.
"He's certainly pitched like an All-Star," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "There's still an opportunity, possibly. We'll see how it all shakes out the next couple days."
Typically, several of the starters chosen for the team withdraw because of injuries or because they are scheduled to pitch the Sunday before.
Moore (12-3, 3.42 ERA) is one of the prime replacement candidates. He is now one of only three pitchers in the majors with 12 or more wins, joining Detroit's Max Scherzer and Washington's Jordan Zimmerman.
Plus, he is the first pitcher with 12 wins not to be chosen an All-Star in 10 years, going back to Sidney Ponson, who was 12-5 with a 3.64 ERA in 2003.
Moore said he was pleased teammate Ben Zobrist was chosen for the All-Star team and downplayed the perceived snub. Five starters were voted in by the players — Boston's Clay Buchholz (on the disabled list), Texas' Yu Darvish, Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, and Detroit's Scherzer — and four others were picked by AL/Detroit manager Jim Leyland for the July 16 game: Oakland's Bartolo Colon, Cleveland's Justin Masterson, Detroit's Justin Verlander and Sale.
"I think those decisions were all subject to people's opinions and things like that," Moore said, "and by no means do I feel right taking away from anybody who did make the team."
He certainly pitched Saturday like he belonged on it, working into the seventh, getting out of whatever trouble he had, and scattering five hits while striking out six. He got the better of Sale, the Lakeland product who struck out nine over seven innings. When the two hooked up at the Trop last year, Sale struck out 15 and Moore 10 in Chicago's 2-1 win.
Saturday's win was the Rays' seventh in their past eight games and pushed them to a season-high eight games over .500 at 48-40.
"We're playing great right now," Moore said. "All I'm trying to do on my night is keep the ball rolling."
In addition to Moore, Maddon raved about the between-innings music and entertainment, especially the Gong Show re-do, during the retro uniform game before a crowd of 21,047: "Probably the best I've ever seen here."
But the on-field action was good, too.
Two of the Rays' runs were knocked in by left-handed hitters. Luke Scott, only in the lineup at DH because Evan Longoria changed Maddon's mind and played the field, laced a second-inning double that was the first extra-base hit Sale allowed to a left-handed batter this season. And Sam Fuld's sixth-inning single made it 3-0.
Longoria made the game's biggest play when the Sox had two on and no out in the third, snaring an Alex Rios liner and diving to the base to double off Alejandro De Aza. Rookie Wil Myers showed his instincts, going first to third on a groundout to be in position to score on Fuld's single.
Moore said he hadn't thought much about making the All-Star team, that if he hadn't had a rough June stretch — 0-3 with a 13.86 ERA — he "could have had a chance."
He still could have one.