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Rays’ Moore will be least experienced pitcher to start a Game 1Joe Maddon sure knows how to grab your attention, doesn't he?

The Tampa Bay Rays skipper did it again on Thursday night, naming rookie left-hander Matt Moore(notes) his starting pitcher for Game 1 of their ALDS against the Texas Rangers.

Of course, Maddon's main purpose wasn't to attract attention with his decision. With James Shields(notes), Jeremy Hellickson(notes) and David Price(notes) unavailable after working against the New York Yankees this week, his options were limited.

After arriving at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Thursday afternoon, Maddon determined that it was the 22-year-old Moore who gave them the best chance to win Game 1.

Yes, even though Moore has only three major-league appearances — and one start — to his name. Bluebird Banter did the research and found that no pitcher has ever started Game 1 of a postseason series with less big-league experience. Moore will break the mark of Bob Wolcott, who started a game for the 1995 Seattle Mariners after seven appearances.

Maddon says he's confident in his decision.


"I don't think we have qualms about doing anything," Maddon said. [...] "I think that is one thing that people have learned about us. You look at how we have gotten to this point. ... If we don't utilize everybody within our rosters here, or within the organization, we're missing out, because that's who we are."

Moore, who spent most of 2011 ranked as baseball's No. 1 pitching prospect, dominated Double-A and Triple-A, going 12-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 27 starts. He was also really impressive in his only big-league start, throwing five scoreless innings and striking out 11 last week at Yankee Stadium.

As regular-season starts go, that's as pressure-packed as it gets for a young starter, but the playoffs are several notches even above that. That's something Moore seems to understand as he prepares for his assignment.

"I think as long as I can keep those nerves in check, it's just a matter of playing baseball," Moore said. "The stage is obviously a little different, but the game would still be the same. Nobody's asking anybody down here to do more than they're capable of. From that standpoint, it's, 'Just do what you can,' and nothing more. That's what got us here."

Given Moore's limited major-league experience, we were left to wonder if any less experienced players had ever appeared in the playoffs before.

That led us to Mark Kiger, an infielder with the Oakland Athletics who appeared in one regular-season game in 2006 before making two appearance in their ALCS against the Detroit Tigers as a defensive replacement. He was then released after the season, never to play again in the majors, and is now out of professional baseball. He never recorded an official plate appearance.

Moore's role will obviously be more prominent than that, and we're assuming things will go better for him in the years to come.

But keeping to the here and now, Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times also reports that Shields will throw Saturday's Game 2 on full rest, with Hellickson and Price lined up to start Games 3 and 4 at home. Right-handed starter Wade Davis(notes) will head to the bullpen, and Jeff Niemann(notes), who was pulled from each of his last two starts early, could be left off the playoff roster entirely.

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