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Matt Moore dominates as Rays cruise to Game 1 victory

Sep 30, 2011, 8:09 PM EDT

Matt Morre AP

Pretty much any team other than the Rays would have given Matt Moore an opportunity months ago. Fortunately, Tampa Bay did find some room for him in the end.

Making just his second big-league start and fourth appearance, Moore blanked the Rangers for seven innings on Friday and, supported by a pair of homers from Kelly Shoppach, picked up the victory in a 9-0 game.

Moore was never in serious trouble while giving up just two hits and two walks. He touched 98 mph on the gun and struck out six.

Moore’s Rangers counterpart couldn’t compare.  After posting a 1.21 ERA in September, C.J. Wilson entered the series as hot as any pitcher in the postseason.  However, he gave up eight runs — six earned — and three homers in this one.

With one in the second, Johnny Damon started it off by hitting just the third homer Wilson has given up to a left-hander this season.  Shoppach then added a three-run homer in the third and a two-run blast in the fifth.

The loss at home with their best starter on the mound leaves the Rangers in a big hole here.  Now they’ll have to beat Rays ace James Shields on Saturday to have much of a chance in the series. The good news is that Shields hasn’t been at his best lately. Also, the Rangers will get to play in the evening and their offense was much better in night games than day games this year. Still, they may need their own young left-hander, Derek Holland, to come through with the same kind of performance that Moore did today.


– The two homers gave Shoppach five RBI.  He didn’t drive in more than two runs in any of his 87 appearances this season, and he ended the year with just 22 RBI (despite having hit 11 homers) in 221 at-bats.

– Shoppach was the first player since Ryan Howard in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series to have two homers and five RBI in a postseason game. He joined Yogi Berra, Gene Tenace, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Napoli as the only catchers to have two-homer games in the postseason.

– One of the two hits surrendered by Moore was a Josh Hamilton double to right that Matt Joyce got a bad read on. It was a ball that should have been caught.

– Hamilton was initially credited with a sacrifice bunt while the Rangers were down 8-0 in the sixth. He was going for the hit, of course, but since it moved Elvis Andrus up to second, the sacrifice was awarded. Fortunately, the official scorer came to his senses and reversed his decision two innings later.

– Hamilton had both Rangers hits in the game.  He had as many hits today as he did in the ALDS against the Rays last year (2-for-18) and as he did in the World Series loss to the Giants (2-for-20).

– Damon’s homer was his 10th in 249 postseason at-bats, giving him a home run rate 66 percent higher in October than his regular-season rate (he’s averaged six homers every 249 regular-season at-bats in his career).  He’s the 33rd player in big-league history to reach double-figures in postseason home runs.

  1. bigleagues - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    Simply unbelievable.

    Shoppach and Damon that is – not Moore 😉

  2. pisano - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    I have to admit I thought this kid would get slammed by the Texas offense, but it goes to show that the old baseball line holds true, that good pitching will stop good hitting. Mr. Moore, my hats off to you, good job.

  3. raysfan1 - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Woo Hoo!

  4. hittfamily - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    kudos to Moore pitching an absolute gem. Kudos to Maddon for believing he would.

  5. jimeejohnson - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    Boston was so overrated that Tampa Bay was not given nearly enough credit for their late season run.

    • Old Gator - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:37 PM

      Sure they were. Especially after Wednesday night’s season closer – which will be a bona fide classic in the annals of the game, even for a designatedhitterball game – I think folks, me included, have realized that we’ve been underestimating this team all season long. I never thought they would recover from the beating they took during last orfseason with a migration of free agents that looked from the air like the annual departure for their grazing grounds of the wildebeest herds.

      But by the same token, let’s face it: the Beanbags had only one more game to win and they couldn’t do it. It took an implosion the magnitude of the collapse of the Roman Empire to clear the space for the Razed to slip through. Seen from both sides, it really looks more like destiny interposed herself into the proceedings and both teams were dancing to the same dissonant, mystical tune down the stretch.

      • 5thbase - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:35 AM

        The Red Sox needed two more wins, not one. Otherwise, I agree with your point, but one win would only have gotten them to a playoff game in which they would have lost and would still be the massive failures they are currently.

    • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2011 at 11:45 AM

      Every rpic collapse requires both a team that needs a collective Heimlich maneuver and a hot team. I’m just happy I happen to root for the hot team in this scenario this time.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 1, 2011 at 11:47 AM

        epic, not rpic. really need to learn how to type better.

  6. indaburg - Oct 1, 2011 at 7:16 AM

    Great job by Matt Moore. I hope to see him pitch again before the season is over. Was anyone else as impressed by the kid’s composure? Game 1 of an ALDS, 2nd start of his career, and he looked as carefree as a boy playing catch with his dad. Great job too by the Rays hitters to finally overcome CJ Wilson, who has owned the Rays thoroughly in the past.

  7. hittfamily - Oct 1, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    I really believe this is a team of destiny. Not in a god given sense of the word, but a team that can not be beaten when they need to win. They know what their destiny is. Too many improbable things have happened, From Sam Fuld batting .400 when Manny left, to Joyce hitting .370 til august, to Kotchmann hitting .350 through August, to Shields going from a zero to a hero, to Dan Johnson hitting 2 homeruns all year (the game winner for their first win after starting 0-6, and his last, tying it in the 9th of their final win), to Desmond Jennings having an OPS over a thousand when Joyce and Kotch tailed off. The Red Sox had the greatest September collapse ever, but the Rays helped them out with that collapse, taking 6 of 7 in September. The Red Sox didnt hand them anything. They took it. Their ace got shellacked, only to have a no name bullpen throw 8 shutout innings in the season finale. The season was capped with the Rays best player hitting 2 homers in the most crucial regular season game in the team’s existence.

    Matt Moore, a guy with 1 start under his belt, 2 hits the Rangers on the road, and Kelly Shoppach gets 5 RBIs. He had 22 all year!!! The most impossible, improbable things keep happening, again and again. This team is capable of anything, and probabilities get thrown out the window when this team takes the field.

  8. hittfamily - Oct 1, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Just saw this quote from Josh Hamilton after the game about Moore:

    “We talked about it in our meetings that he’s a little erratic. But he didn’t seem that way today,” Hamilton said. “That might’ve caused us to not be as aggressive as we normally are at the plate. … His fastball was pretty straight. Not much command of his offspeed. It was out of character for us to not jump on the pitches we saw.”

    I thought Hamilton was better than that. It reminds me of being in the dugout at 13 years old, and hearing from other teammates how the guy is throwing meat, and we should be ripping him. What a jackass.

    • pisano - Oct 1, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      I think that was a little gamesmanship on Hamilton’s part, thinking they may have to deal with Moore again. I saw his first start against the Yankees, and he did the same thing to them. This kid is the real deal, sure once the league gets a line on him he probably won’t be quite as dominate, but no one is going to make a John Lackey out of him either. What a future he has ahead of him, barring injuries he should be a top of the rotation guy for a long time.

      • hittfamily - Oct 1, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        To claim he has a flat fastball and doen’t have command of his offspeed pitches after he just shut out your team is foolish.

        Basically what Hamilton said: This guy isn’t very good and we should have ripped him.

      • raysfaninsrq - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        Gamesmanship! To what end? They aren’t going to face Matt Moore again in the ALDS, so “gamesmanship”, as seemingly used here, goes out the window. Hamilton’s comments are at best self rationalization, or worst a bunch of excuses.

        Further, if Hamilton’s comments were genuine, why didn’t the Rangers start hitting Moore after the first time through the line-up, or at least the third. Not to mention that the only two hits off of Moore were by Hamilton, so if he knew how to hit Moore, how come the rest of the team did not? IMHO, it wasn’t because the Rangers thought Moore was a “little erratic”, it was because Moore was much better than eight of nine players in their line-up.

        Way to go Matt Moore, and Joe Madden for being smart enough to put him on the ALDS roster over Neimann.

        One vote here for Maddon, Manager of the Year!!

  9. bobdira - Oct 1, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    So let me get this straight. Pouilot is taking a shot at the Rays for not bringing up Moore earlier? Didn’t the Rays have arguably the best starting pitching in baseball? And didn’t they bring up Alex Cobb who did a stellar job to give the starters some rest mid season so they would be rested for the stretch? And didn’t they get solid starting pitching for that stretch run (a couple exceptions here, but who’s countin)

    Talk about nit-picking. Sounds like they did what they needed to be one up in the ALDS, como no?

    The only way to substantiate that comment is by saying the rest of the league had inadequate or suspect starting pitching, but he didn’t make that argument, he just took a shot at the Rays way. Must be a sox fan.

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