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Tampa Bay Rays phenom Matt Moore has rocky major-league debut

BALTIMORE — LHP Matt Moore's much-anticipated debut didn't go too smoothly Wednesday.

And that was just getting him into the game at the right time.

Due to a miscommunication between manager Joe Maddon, pitching coach Jim Hickey and bullpen coach Stan Boroski, Moore started down the bullpen ramp for the beginning of the seventh only to see starter Wade Davis back on the mound. Two batters later, as Maddon planned, Moore walked back down and into the big leagues.

Moore, 22, started well, getting Robert Andino and Matt Angle out to end the inning, showing off an easy 96-97 mph fastball, then striking out J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis to start the eighth. But Moore allowed a single to Vlad Guerrero then a costly two-run homer to Matt Wieters.

"I didn't really know what to expect," Moore said. "I went out and tried to feel comfortable. There was just a different feeling. … We'll do better next time.''

Maddon lauded Moore's effort, citing his "lack-of-effort" delivery and composure.

FULD DOWN: OF Sam Fuld, making a rare start, left after four innings due to a right wrist issue he said was a strained tendon that occurred on a swing and miss in his second at-bat. "Just kind of a weird thing,'' said Fuld, who is considered day to day. He was playing so slumping LF Desmond Jennings could get a mental and physical day off.

HE'S BAAACK: The Rays are bringing their lucky charm to Boston, having called up Dan Johnson, whose list of key hits includes the monumental and momentous pinch-homer off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on Sept. 9, 2008, with the bat mounted in his house as a memento.

Johnson said he'd welcome the chance for history to repeat itself: "I would love to add a bat to the collection, no doubt."

Johnson, 32, was thrilled just to be back in the majors, having been sent down in late May and hampered much of the year by a wrist injury.

Also recalled was LHP Alex Torres, 23, who made one appearance for the Rays in July and was 9-7, 3.08 at Durham. Torres gives the Rays five left-handers in the bullpen, though neither he nor Moore will be used on back-to-back days.

ABOUT TUESDAY NIGHT: LHP David Price said the surprising decision to throw four cutters and a slider — and no fastballs — to pinch-hitter Jake Fox during the seventh-inning at-bat that cost the Rays the lead was his. "That was the pitch I felt comfortable with," he said. "That's how I wanted to pitch him; I didn't execute, and he beat me." … Maddon defended his decision to have Jose Lobaton pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth against Jim Johnson, saying he wanted to have Fuld hit with a man on and Lobaton was the best option of the remaining lefty swingers (Brignac, Elliot Johnson). He admitted that the situation was part of the reason Dan Johnson was called back up.

MISCELLANY: The Rays went 9-9 vs. Baltimore. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson flew to Boston Wednesday afternoon to get full rest for tonight's start. … To make room for Dan Johnson on the 40-man roster, RHP Jay Buente was released. … RHPs Rob Delaney and Mike Ekstrom, who were designated for assignment, both cleared waivers. … The Rays voted for the Players Choice awards, with a message on the clubhouse whiteboard: "Vote Hellickson ROY! Now."

Tampa Bay Rays phenom Matt Moore has rocky major-league debut 09/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 1:17am]

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