Matt Moore has been having some control issues, but what’s more important is that he’s back in the win column.
In part due to his 8-0 start, Moore (10-3, 3.95 ERA) is already one victory shy of a career high. However, his 4.98 walks per nine innings rank last in the AL. Moore worked around a career high-tying six free passes in Tuesday’s 5-1 victory over Toronto, throwing six innings of one-run ball.
He’s won back-to-back starts after losing his previous three.
“Any time where there’s six walks and I can get through the sixth inning, it’s a pretty unusual thing to happen,” Moore said after matching a career best with 11 strikeouts.
Manager Joe Maddon would obviously like Moore to cut down on his walks, but he doesn’t seem overly concerned.
“He’ll figure it out,” Maddon told the Rays’ official website. “He’ll get to that point where he knows exactly what he’s doing out front, and when he does, it’s going to be really fun to watch.”
Moore will face an Astros team that’s dropped eight of 12 after getting swept at home by the Los Angeles Angels.
Tampa Bay (43-39), meanwhile, finished a 4-2 homestand over the weekend by taking two of three from Detroit. The Rays swept their last series against Houston (30-52), winning three games from June 24-26, 2011.
Evan Longoria went 8 for 14 with three homers and 10 RBIs in that series, but the third baseman is questionable after missing the last two games with a sore right foot.
Dallas Keuchel (4-4, 4.34) probably wouldn’t mind if the Rays’ leader with 17 homers took another day to recover. In his last start June 21, the left-hander struck out nine for the first time, but he surrendered a career high-tying three homers in a 3-1 loss at the Chicago Cubs. Keuchel had been tagged for just five homers in eight previous starts since being inserted into the rotation May 10.
“I thought he made a couple of mistakes and they made him pay for it,” manager Bo Porter said. “They were all solo home runs and he did a good job of keeping us in the game.”
It was too late for Keuchel to do that Tuesday when he relieved Lucas Harrell who allowed seven runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 13-5 loss to St. Louis. Keuchel fanned six in 2 2-3 innings, but allowed a two-run shot.
Keuchel has never faced Tampa Bay.
Carlos Pena won’t get a chance to play his former team after leaving the Astros this weekend when a relative drowned in the Dominican Republic. Pena is expected back Tuesday.
Rays first baseman James Loney will try to extend his hitting streak to 12. The Houston native is batting .400 during that stretch.
Tampa Bay goes for a sixth consecutive victory in this series - all in Houston - after losing six of the first seven meetings.