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Rays push back struggling Matt Moore's next start

Rays starter Matt Moore has been running up pitch counts in his most recent outings and hasn’t lasted past the fifth inning in his past three.
Rays starter Matt Moore has been running up pitch counts in his most recent outings and hasn’t lasted past the fifth inning in his past three.
Published May 18, 2016

TORONTO — LHP Matt Moore hasn't been pitching very well, failing to get past five innings in each of his past three starts. So now the Rays are going to give him extra time until his next outing, bumping Moore back two extra days to pitch Monday in Miami.

The move officially is being made, manager Kevin Cash said, to split up Moore and Drew Smyly, the two lefties in the rotation, who have been pitching back-to-back since the April 9 postponement in Baltimore forced a change in their original plans.

"It's not the easy thing to do, to make adjustments in season," Cash said. "We had an opportunity to do it with this off day (Thursday), so we jumped on it."

But it also gives Moore time to work through the command issues that have led to his early departures, throwing 96 pitches over 41/3 innings on May 3, 98 for 42/3 on May 9 and 78 for five innings on Sunday. Both he and the Rays said there are no health concerns or issues related to his April 2014 Tommy John elbow surgery.

"I think it's the same as any pitcher that's struggling, along the lines of Chris Archer, it's the lapses in command," pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "But that's something that, I don't want to say plagued him, but it's been an issue from day one."

Moore (1-3, 5.09) said he was okay with the change, using the extra time to throw an extended bullpen session Tuesday, then standard between-starts 20-25 pitch session Friday.

He admitted he was unhappy about being pulled after five innings Sunday and met with Cash on Monday to discuss it. Handed an early 5-1 lead, Moore nearly squandered it, giving up a two-run homer to Danny Valencia with two outs in the fifth to seal his fate.

"It's up to me to change skip's mind that in that moment I'm better than that home run to Valencia, and that moving forward that I will be better," Moore said. "We had a talk about it. It was like, Hey look, we had a pretty rested bullpen, Erasmo (Ramirez) was ready to go. That's what managers do, they manage to win the game.

"Looking back now, in the moment, I was probably more mad at the home run to Valencia because I had two strikes on him, just yanked a fastball. That was where my frustration came from — it's hard to say leave me in the game when you give up four runs in five innings, right? I do my best to let to let skip know, Hey, look, no matter what I got your back, if this is what you think's good then let's go with it."

STEEL JAW: RHP Ryan Webb was a bit sore and swollen but otherwise quite lucky after a line drive struck off his glove and hit him on the side of the jaw, though he stayed in. "It squared me up pretty good," Webb said.

LINING UP: Though strongly preferring to alternate right- and left-handed hitters, Cash moved hot-hitting 2B Steve Pearce into the cleanup spot, thus clumping three righties, and dropped struggling DH Corey Dickerson to sixth, thus bunching three lefties. Cash said it was "tough" to not have LF Desmond Jennings in the lineup after his three-hit Monday, but wanted to stay on plan and will start Jennings tonight.

SPECIAL MOMENT: Getting his first hit in his first major-league plate appearance made Monday night special enough for INF/OF Taylor Motter. He was so excited he had a hard time going to sleep afterward, which at least allowed him time to return the 50-plus texts he received.

REHAB REPORT: RHP Brad Boxberger (core muscle repair surgery) will make the second of five-six rehab appearances tonight for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte, targeting a late-May return.

MISCELLANY: Archer will visit with members of the Toronto Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program before tonight's game. … Six of OF/DH Corey Dickerson's past seven hits have gone for extra bases, and seven of SS Brad Miller's past 18. … 3B Evan Longoria logged his 499th extra-base hit.