It has taken half a season, but Matt Moore is finally showing the promise that had experts touting him as a Rookie of the Year candidate. The hard-throwing left-hander looks to extend his winning ways – and lead his club to a sweep in the process – as he guides the Tampa Bay Rays into the finale of their three-game set with visitingToronto Blue Jays. The Rays are coming off a 3-2 victory Wednesday that allowed them to clinch their 16th consecutive home series win over rival Toronto.
Moore puts Tampa Bay in a strong position to sweep the Blue Jays out of town. The 23-year-old has thrown 11 2/3 scoreless innings in his last two starts and has surrendered just four runs in four outings since the All-Star Break. He’ll be opposed by Toronto right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who has also looked stronger in the second half. Alvarez has allowed three runs or fewer in three of his last four starts, and will likely need to be just as stingy on Thursday with Toronto hitters buried in a funk.
Blue Jays Rays Betting
When: 1:10 PM ET, Thursday, August 9, 2012
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, RSN-1 (Toronto), SUN (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Henderson Alvarez (7-8, 4.47 ERA) vs. Rays LH Matt Moore (8-7, 3.84)
Though Alvarez wasn’t his sharpest last time out – tagged for three runs on four hits with five walks over five innings in a loss to Oakland – he continues to progress in his second season in the majors. The biggest improvement over the past two months: keeping the ball in the park. The 22-year-old has surrendered just five home runs in his last eight starts after coughing up 16 over his first 13 outings. Alvarez has won four of his last six decisions.
Moore likely won’t get many Rookie of the Year votes – he can thank Los Angeles Angels phenom Mike Trout for that – but his recent success has people paying attention again. Moore held Baltimore off the scoresheet over 6 1/3 outstanding innings in his last outing, dropping his ERA to its lowest mark since his first start of the season. Moore faced the Jays earlier in 2012, earning a no-decision after throwing 97 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings.
1. Alvarez has yet to figure out the Rays, going 0-3 with a 5.68 ERA in three career starts against them. Tampa Bay has homered six times off Alvarez in just 19 innings.
2. Rays 3B/DH Evan Longoria is expected to sit out the finale after playing Tuesday and Wednesday – his first action since missing 85 games with a partially torn left hamstring.
3. The Blue Jays will get one final chance this season to halt their dreadful series losing streak in Tampa Bay – they’ll visit the Rays again Sept. 21-23.