CHICAGO — LHP Matt Moore is confident that despite five starts without a win and three straight of no more than four innings, he can give the Rays a good effort today.
Pitching coach Jim Hickey said so, too. As did manager Joe Maddon.
"I don't really feel like I fell off my horse or anything like that," Moore said Friday.
But each had different theories as to what has been wrong with him and what needs to be done differently.
Maddon believes the trouble goes back to the Sept. 5 ESPN report that Moore was tipping his pitches.
"I'm encouraging him to not worry about that," he said. "I'm encouraging him to actually in advance tell the hitter what's coming, if that makes him feel any better, because I still believe if he's making his pitches like he can, that it's not going to matter. So I really wish he'd stop worrying about that and just go ahead and throw the baseball like he can. It was working well for him before."
Moore said the pitch-tipping is not a concern, nor are there physical problems. The issue is simply a matter of executing better and being more aggressive.
"I just have to attack early and get ahead," Moore said. "The biggest thing is throwing my fastball for strikes early in the count. If I can get there, my other pitches, they come alive; they don't necessarily even have to be strikes."
Hickey said it's a matter of approach at the start of the game. "He doesn't need to do anything dramatically different, except he needs to come out of the gates a little bit more efficient and a little bit more competitive," Hickey said. "He simply needs to make the other team beat him, not allow them to take advantage of his mistakes."
MOLINA BETTER: C Jose Molina's strained right quad improved enough that he was a possibility to return to action in late-inning duty Friday against the White Sox and could be back in the lineup by Sunday. He hasn't played since leaving Tuesday's game. Jose Lobaton made his third straight start in Molina's absence.
PITCHING IN: The Rays are set to start RHPs Alex Cobb, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson for the final three games against Baltimore, with Moore in line for a potential playoff-spot tiebreaker Thursday and LHP David Price a wild-card game Oct. 5.
But, Maddon said, that could change: "There's different things we talked about a little bit. We could bring guys back short if we wanted to, also. It just depends on the moment, so we'll see."
CHANGE IN LEFT: With Desmond Jennings 0-for-13 in the first three games of the road trip, Sam Fuld started in leftfield. Maddon insisted it was more a matter of getting Fuld into the lineup because he matched up better against Sox RHP Gavin Floyd than getting Jennings out, though he also said it was "good to keep an eye on Desmond, not to get him too tired with a lot of games left to play yet."
MISCELLANY: The Rays' streak of not allowing a homer ended at a team-record-tying six games. … The Rays are 1-4 against the Sox, mainly because they are 1-for-20 with runners in scoring position. … RHP Fernando Rodney needs 11/3 scoreless innings to get his ERA under Dennis Eckersley's 1990 reliever record of 0.61. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson got his first September loss.