Rays' Moore has had success at Fenway

Rays' Moore has had success at Fenway
October 3, 2013, 7:30 pm
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BOSTON – Rays manager Joe Maddon called left-hander Matt Moore – his Game 1 starter Friday afternoon in the American League Division Series at Fenway Park – “effectively wild.” That's evidenced by Moore’s 17 wild pitches to lead the A.L. this season and set a new Tampa Bay record.

Still, Moore can also be wildly effective, as evidenced by his 17-4 record – tied for the third-most wins in the A.L. He is just the second pitcher in Rays history to record at least 17 wins in a season, joining Game 2 starter David Price, who did so in 2012 with 20 and 2010 with 19.

He has been just as effective against the Red Sox this season, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts, including one start at Fenway when he pitched his first career shutout, allowing just two hits on July 22. According to Elias, it was only the 66th shutout by a visiting lefty in the 102-year history of Fenway.

“Matt Moore's season, obviously the record is outstanding,” Maddon said. “Matt Moore's makeup, how shall I say, he's very level or even about things.  You've seen it.  There's no denying, he can get wild; he can miss the plate.  But he doesn't cave in.  And that speaks to his makeup and what's going on.

“Stuff‑wise, it's high end.  If his delivery is in order, which you're going to see tomorrow night, when it is and when it is not.  And when it is, from my perspective, it's really fun to watch the mechanical component where he's really smooth and he's really reaching under the catcher's mitt.  It looks like it's flowing well.  He has a great curveball.  He has a great change‑up.

“The awkward thing there is, be careful what you wish for, too, sometimes," Maddon said. "When he's kind of like this controlled wildness, they don't get hits.  He may walk a couple of guys, but they don't hit him.  And sometimes he'll get over the plate, which you'd perceive to be better command and he gets hit, and that's the problem.  So he walks this different kind of a tightrope that maybe some other pitchers don't walk, but he's able to do it.  Like the other day he was going along well in Toronto, but he was like effectively wild.  And then all of a sudden he started throwing strikes, and he gave up four hits in a row.

“So you've got to watch this.  You've got to watch it carefully," Maddon said. "You could see his fastball from 91 to 95.  Really good hook, he's got a really good curveball, a good change‑up.  So a good makeup guy.  A little bit different in his approach.  I like when his delivery is together, then you see more consistency.”

Moore, for one, agrees with his manager’s assessment of his effective wildness.
 
“I would agree with that to a certain extent, absolutely,” he said. “It's kind of hard to have a game plan of making me establish pitches when I'm not necessarily in the zone every pitch or around the zone every pitch.  So I think that some random, erratic misses kind of maybe can make me have to prove something else and get me in some better counts and I'm getting ahead early.”

How does that affect his approach to the Red Sox?

“I've had a good game against them this year and I've had an average game,” he said. “So I think the majority of the time, in my experience with Boston, is that I have to prove I'm going to throw some strikes.  Be aggressive in the strike zone with my pitches, and show that I'm going to throw off‑speed pitches for strikes, as well.  So I think just overall command, that kind of helps the game go a little bit smoother.”

Overall, Moore, who turned 24 in June, is 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA at Fenway.  He has made three appearances, including the second appearance of his career, out of the bullpen on Sept. 17, 2011. It was a big moment, he said, in his burgeoning career.
 
“I think I wound up walking the first two guys, and typically that's an early hook right there out of the bullpen,” he said. “I wound up wiggling out of it and getting three outs without anybody scoring.  In my eyes I see that as a big moment and gaining some confidence and showing Joe what could happen.”