While Matt Moore entered 2012 with very high expectations, he wasn’t able to find much consistency during the first half of the season.
He could get off to a rough start to the second against a Cleveland Indians club that hit him hard just over a week ago.
Moore tries to avenge one of his more disappointing outings as the Tampa Bay Rays continue a four-game set with the visiting Indians on Tuesday night.
Considered by many to be one of baseball’s most promising young pitchers, Moore (5-6, 4.42 ERA) hasn’t lived up to that billing yet. Though his 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings rank among the AL’s top 10, the left-hander has been plagued by poor control while walking 50 in 99 2-3 innings.
Moore was especially wild against Cleveland (46-43) in his final start before the All-Star break, yielding a season high-tying five walks along with five runs and five hits over 4 2-3 innings of a 7-3 road loss July 7.
“He’s young and has great stuff, but still a little inconsistent,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We ran his pitch count up early and had a lot of good at-bats. You need to stay focused against a guy like him.”
That outing was especially disheartening given that Cleveland is 10-17 against left-handed starters this year, but the 23-year-old Moore is trying to learn from his struggles.
“I’ve had nine days off between starts, so I’ve had some recollection of what’s been going on,” Moore told the Rays’ official website. “I’ve definitely been looking at some film, just trying to stay consistent with my delivery. They hit five doubles off me. I looked back at some tape and figured out a couple hot spots for the zone.”
Moore has to like his chances of bouncing back at home, where he’s compiled a 1.80 ERA during a three-start winning streak. Tampa Bay, though, has posted a 12-21 record at Tropicana Field since winning 13 of its first 14 games there.
Hitting just .202 with runners in scoring position during a 6-12 stretch overall, the Rays (46-44) went 2 for 10 in such situations during Monday’s 3-2 series-opening loss. Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis each had two hits and an RBI.
“These guys have been able to win close ballgames the whole year,” Acta said. “They’ll fight, they’ll fight and fight.”
Batting .383 with five homers and 19 runs scored in his last 24 games, Choo has gone 12 for 30 (.400) with a pair of long balls during an eight-game hitting streak against Tampa Bay.
Josh Tomlin (5-5, 5.45) returns to the mound after having his way with the Rays in his last start July 5. The right-hander gave up one run and two hits over seven innings of a 3-1 victory, earning his first win in three starts in this series.
“The inconsistency this year for me has been the biggest disappointment,” he told his team’s official website. “Last year, I felt like I could go out there every start and figure out a way to pitch deep into the game. That hasn’t happened as much this year. Hopefully I can pick it up from here, and hopefully this continues for the rest of the season.”
If his recent road efforts are any indication, Tomlin could have difficulty building on his last performance. He is 1-2 with an 11.77 ERA over his last three outings away from home, with opponents hitting .404 and taking him deep six times.