Moore dominates Tribe in encouraging start
Zobrist drives in three runs with two doubles
ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay will go only so far as the pitching will take it this season. Based on what Matt Moore and company gave the Rays Friday night, this year's team could go a long way.
Led by Moore's solid effort, the Rays won, 4-0, over the Indians at Tropicana Field with 16,019 watching, a result that moved both teams to 2-2 on the season.
Moore struggled with command issues throughout Spring Training, though he did show signs of life in his last outing in Saturday's exhibition against the Tigers. Given the way the 23-year-old southpaw began his second full Major League season, March's madness is in the rearview mirror.
Throughout his outing, Moore appeared to have the Indians eating out of his hand, setting them up with fastball strikes before pulling the string with breaking stuff outside the zone.
"Usually, when I'm ahead [in the count], that really opens up options," Moore said. "I kind of started expanding the zone a little bit. So that first pitch is huge and tonight I was able to pop some two-seamers in there early, and that set up the other stuff."
Jason Kipnis, who hit a ball to deep center field in the first that Desmond Jennings hauled in before slamming into the wall, said Moore's velocity seemed to be down a little bit from the 95-97 mph range he showed last season.
"Today, it was kind of in the 92-94, but he knows that," Kipnis said. "He's a smart pitcher, so he started using his offspeed a little bit more and moving the ball in and out."
Moore threw six scoreless frames, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out eight en route to his first win of the season.
"He got into some deep counts, was able to throw a strike when he wanted to with the fastball, which I think is also very important for him," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But I thought it was the perfect time for him to get him out. 100 pitches, six innings, he feels really good about himself as he goes home tonight. That's a great game for him to build off off."
Moore retired the final eight hitters he faced before Jake McGee, Brandon Gomes and Joel Peralta pitched the final three innings without allowing any Indians to reach base. Michael Bourn got the only two Indians hits. The rest of the squad managed just two walks, and they managed to hit just five balls that left the infield.
Friday's night's shutout was the Rays' first of the season, following a 2012 campaign in which they set a franchise record for shutouts with 15.
"It feels good for us to have a combined shutout like that," Moore said. "It's something we really work toward every year, and to have the first one on my night it feels nice."
Meanwhile, Sam Fuld and Ben Zobrist led a solid offensive attack against Cleveland starter Zach McAllister, who needed just 20 pitches to navigate the first two innings.
During the length of Spring Training, Maddon preached prudence in regard to the recovery of Fuld's right hamstring. After all, a lot of the good things the Rays outfielder does are related to his speed.
"I think it was definitely the right plan of attack," Fuld said. "I think maybe the only thing that was going to be an issue was going to be the number of at-bats I got during Spring Training. But luckily I felt confident that I didn't need a ton of at-bats in the spring. And I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable at the plate now."
Fuld rewarded his manager's patience with results Friday night.
He singled to center field to start the fourth. When Ben Zobrist followed with a double to right, Fuld scooted around the bases to score the Rays' first run.
Zobrist later scored on Yunel Escobar's groundout to put the Rays up 2-0.
Fuld was again in the middle of things in the fifth when he singled with two out to move Desmond Jennings to third. Zobrist then doubled to right. Jennings scored and Fuld raced around the bases before "Super Sam Fuld-ing" it across home with a headfirst slide to put the Rays up 4-0.
Zobrist has hit safely in all four of the Rays games and has multiple RBIs in three of the four. He went to bed Friday night with a .467 average that included one home run and seven RBIs.
"As a team, I liked what we did today," Fuld said. "We had a lot of good at-bats against a guy we haven't seen much and had some pretty good stuff. It's encouraging to get off to a good start like that."