Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays hit three homers, hold off Toronto Blue Jays 8-5

ST. PETERSBURG — Certainly, the Rays had some issues Tuesday, beyond whatever led to Carlos Peña and Luke Scott finishing the TV interview with Todd Kalas after the 8-5 win wearing their new gladiator helmets.

Rookie starter Matt Moore gave away the chance for his second win as he nearly gave away an early six-run lead by walking the bases loaded. They continued their bumbling ways with two more errors, both on the same play. And their offense, with homers from Peña (who was moved to the leadoff spot), Scott and B.J. Upton, remains a collaboration of inconsistency.

But as rough as it has been going, losses mounting along with injuries, there is little reason to be picky.

"You take 'em all," manager Joe Maddon said. "You talk about winning ugly, but in the end they're all kind of beautiful, actually."

Having lost two straight and four of six, and looking bad in doing so, the Rays (26-18) now have a chance in today's matinee finale to salvage a 4-4 homestand.

Moore was cruising toward his second victory as Peña, with a blast off the centerfield restaurant estimated at 452 feet, helped the Rays turn a 1-0 lead into 6-0 with a five-run fourth before 12,307 at Tropicana Field.

But as dazzling as the 22-year-old rookie was in the first four innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out six, he was dreadful in the fifth, a change Maddon attributed to youthful indiscretion.

"I think things started to speed up for him delivery-wise, and all of a sudden the strike zone went away," Maddon said. "Not that he was trying to be too fine, just the fact that the game mentally speeded up for him to the point where he was unable to control his fastball."

Moore started poorly, walking Colby Rasmus on four pitches, for reasons he couldn't explain. "The first four innings I'm going right at everybody with, 'If you can hit it, you can hit it,' then with Colby he didn't have to make his mind up for himself," he said.

He got a comebacker from Yan Gomes but didn't make a good throw to second, foiling the chance for a double play. After another fielder's choice grounder, he walked Kelly Johnson then Yunel Escobar, earning the chance to face Jose Bautista with the bases loaded.

Moore got ahead, then fell behind, and Bautista blistered a full-count pitch to left, scoring two. He ended up behind again to Edwin Encarnacion, got a ground ball on his 39th pitch of the inning but was done in by a defense that has made an AL-high-matching 40 errors in 44 games.

"Even with a couple guys being hurt, we're better than that," Maddon said. "Those are the kind of mistakes that we don't make, and we have to stop making."

Sean Rodriguez threw wildly past first then rightfielder Ben Zobrist, with his first career outfield error, misfired toward the plate, making it 6-4 and ending Moore's night, one out short of the minimum five innings for a starter to get the win, which official scorer Bill Mathews awarded to Wade Davis.

"It's frustrating," Moore said. "Obviously, I'm just upset with myself in that situation where I know I'm better than that and I know there's more to come from that. That's not the way I want to represent myself, not only to what's going on, but to everybody in our clubhouse."

As troubling as his performance was, Maddon kept perspective: "I have a lot of patience for young left-handers with that kind of arm."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

 
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