Rays-Orioles Preview


The Tampa Bay Rays are in a terrible offensive slump. Luckily for them, they haven't needed much success at the plate for pitcher Matt Moore.

Moore looks to continue his scoreless streak as the Rays try to get their offense on track in the middle game of a road series against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

Tampa Bay (4-9) ranks near the bottom of the majors in runs (39) and batting average (.204). The Rays have been especially bad in dropping seven of eight, totaling 14 runs and hitting .160 while going 1 for 34 with runners in scoring position.

"As long as players don't quit on themselves then we're in good shape, and we're not going to do that because I'm not going to do that," manager Joe Maddon said after his team matched the franchise's worst start with a 5-4 loss in the series opener Tuesday. "I like the battle. I like the fight. The work has been great. It's going to flip."

The Rays hope to snap out of their funk with Moore (2-0, 0.00 ERA) taking the mound for his third start. The left-hander has the longest scoreless streak to open the season among AL starters at 11 1-3 innings. He held Texas hitless for the first 4 1-3 innings and allowed one hit over 5 1-3 in a 2-0 win last Wednesday.

Moore maintained his perfect ERA despite walking a career-high six.

"Where the big pitches that really needed to be made, I was locked into those moments," Moore said. "From that, we can be happy with what the results were."

Moore has allowed three hits in his first two starts and leads major league starters with an .086 opponents' batting average. But he has already walked eight and thrown two wild pitches.

Maddon acknowledges that Moore can sometimes have trouble with control, but admits that he has enjoyed Moore's start to 2013.

Moore has "this nice little tempo, then all of a sudden you see the tempo (go away) and there's this little thing at the end of the delivery," Maddon told the Rays' official website. "A little lagging of the arm. ... But when he's right on and that thing comes together, it's beautiful to watch from the side."

Moore was excellent in his first four career starts against Baltimore last season, going 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA. However, he walked 13 in 19 2-3 innings.

Despite Moore's success against the Orioles, Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters is 5 for 8 with two homers and three walks against him.

Wieters was 2 for 26 over his last eight games before hitting a solo homer in the series opener, helping the Orioles (7-6) improve to 3-1 against the Rays in 2013.

Chris Tillman (0-0, 7.00) will get the ball next for the Orioles. The right-hander held Boston to two runs in 5 1-3 innings Thursday, and Baltimore took a 3-2 victory on Adam Jones' RBI double in the seventh.

Tillman is 1-3 with a 4.78 ERA in seven starts against the Rays.

Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria, who's 6 for 15 (.400) with a home run, three RBIs and three runs scored versus Baltimore this season, is 6 for 12 with three homers and three walks against Tillman.