Tampa Bay Rays rookie Matt Moore feels ready to turn season around

ST. PETERSBURG — Rookie LHP Matt Moore is winless in three starts with some ugly numbers but feels his game will be in much better order when he takes the mound this afternoon.

Moore said that while warming up for the sixth inning of his last start on Friday, his timing and delivery clicked into place.

"It's a bunch of little things to kind of getting that feeling back to where everything is coming out nice and from a similar arm slot," he said. "Where sometimes I felt like I was fighting it a little bit through my delivery. The last three-four days have been really good. … It's a lot better now as far as timing with everything."

Moore, 22, tended to start slow in his three minor-league seasons, specifically in walking too many batters as he seemed to improve his control after his first few starts. That has been an issue again, with 12 walks, compared to 11 strikeouts, in 191/3 innings. But Moore said there's a difference because he has found the zone and is "missing more up and down than east to west."

MATSUI UPDATE: The Rays were still finalizing language on a minor-league contract for OF/DH Hideki Matsui, the 37-year-old former All-Star expected to head to Triple-A Durham and provide depth.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Matsui, who was on his 2010 team and a regular AL West foe with Oakland last year, can still contribute.

"He swung the bat really well for us a couple years ago," he said. "Last year, I know he didn't drive the ball as well as he can (12 homers, career-low .375 slugging percentage), but he's still strong. … He knows his way around the box, he's a good situational hitter. He was great on our team."

STREAKING: The fourth-inning home run RHP Jeremy Hellickson allowed to Angels OF Vernon Wells was the first given up by a Rays pitcher since April 18 in Toronto, a streak of 551/3 innings that is the fourth best such run in team history. The record is 592/3 by the 2006 team. … The Rays beat former Rangers/current Angels LHP C.J. Wilson for the first time in 18 regular-season games, five starts. (They did beat him in the 2011 playoffs.) Wilson did strike out 11 in his seven innings. "He's just very difficult for us,'' manager Joe Maddon said. … RHP Fernando Rodney converted his sixth consecutive save. … The Rays had scored 12 straight runs by homer or sac fly until Jeff Keppinger's RBI double in the third.

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Jose Lobaton felt good a day after playing catch to test the sore shoulder that landed him on the DL. "I didn't feel anything," Lobaton said. "But maybe in my mind, I was a little scared that I would." Lobaton will be limited to playing catch this week, with a potential mid May return. … Triple-A SS Tim Beckham is on the DL with a left wrist sprain.

LEGAL MATTERS: A judge in Charlotte County will decide this morning whether to reduce the $1.015 million bail for minor-league RHP Matt Bush, who remains jailed facing seven charges from a March 22 DUI hit-and-run arrest.

MISCELLANY: Hellickson is the second rookie of the year winner to go 3-0 as a starter the next season, joining Dontrelle Willis (2003-04). … Neil Solondz, the new pre- and postgame radio host, got to make his first big-league "start" when he filled in for a sick Andy Freed and joined Dave Wills in the booth. … Keppinger was 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position for the season before his double. … TV analyst Brian Anderson turns the big 4-0 today. … Wednesday was the fourth game Rays hitters struck out 10 or more times, but they are 3-1. … MLB Network has picked up games on May 8 and 10 (Yankees), 17 and 25 (Red Sox).

Tampa Bay Rays rookie Matt Moore feels ready to turn season around 04/25/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:19am]

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