Tampa Bay Rays starter Matt Moore looking to continue recent roll

WASHINGTON — The difference in LHP Matt Moore has been obvious as he has come out with a win in his past three starts after doing so only once in his first 10.

He has had better command of his fastball. He has thrown his breaking ball for strikes when he needs to. And he has had a bigger smile.

"Yeah, things weren't going very well there for a second," Moore said. "I think anytime you're dropping games regardless of however I'm pitching, if I'm pitching like that and we're winning we can hang on to those and make adjustments later on.

"But we weren't winning the games and a lot of it was happening later on in the game, so I think the adjustments were made and I'm a little bit smarter now."

Moore, who starts tonight, hopes to continue exactly what he has been doing. Manager Joe Maddon is okay with that.

"I think obviously his confidence is up," he said. "His last game in particular, the breaking ball strike was a big part of that. … And more than anything, his fastball command looks like it's gotten better. And with that, his confidence has ascended."

JOYCE OUT: OF Matt Joyce remained stiff and "a little sore" after leaving Tuesday's game with tightness on the left side of his lower back, but he was confident he didn't pull anything and would not be sidelined long. Maddon was similarly hopeful: "I don't know that, but I don't think so."

Joyce said the tightness had been an issue for about a week and got worse following a bout with the flu Sunday, a plane flight Monday, the adjustment to a hotel bed and playing in Tuesday's heat. "There's a lot of factors involved," he said.

MORE MEDICAL: INF Jeff Keppinger (broken right big toe) was 0-for-4 in his fifth rehab game at Triple-A Durham and is on track to rejoin the Rays over the weekend. … DH Luke Scott said his back remained "a little bit" tight but he was definitely improving, with a plan to take batting practice over the weekend in Philadelphia and return to active duty Monday in Kansas City.

UPTOWN GUY: CF B.J. Upton said he enjoyed playing in Washington, the closest big-league team to his hometown of Norfolk, Va., and the present home of many friends.

"I like the city," he said, "and it's kind of like home."

The Nats have been rumored to have interest in Upton, and he is likely headed toward free agency after the season. Would he consider Washington as his new home? "I don't know," he said. "That's not a question to be answered right now."

MISCELLANY: In his pro debut, 2011 first-round draft pick RHP Taylor Guerrieri pitched five shutout innings for short-season Class A Hudson Valley, allowing two hits, walking one and striking out six. … RHP Fernando Rodney notched his 20th save Tuesday in the team's 67th game, two fewer than Roberto Hernandez in 1999. … LHP David Price is expected to appear with Vice President Joe Biden today to announce PSAs about dating violence. … The Rays had won eight straight games in NL parks, one shy of the interleague road winning streak set by the 2006-07 Mariners.

Tampa Bay Rays starter Matt Moore looking to continue recent roll 06/20/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 11:59pm]

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