Unable to solve Buehrle, Rays blanked by Jays
Moore effective in 5 2/3-inning start, but Tampa Bay held to four hits
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Moore pitched well enough to win according to Rays manager Joe Maddon, but the Rays just couldn't find a way to deal with Mark Buehrle or Jose Bautista.
Those two were the difference in a 3-0 Blue Jays win over the Rays on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
Buehrle, who twirled a perfect game for the White Sox against the Rays in 2009, had little difficulty navigating the Rays' lineup en route to his first win of the season. He nearly went the distance, striking out 11 and allowing four hits over 8 2/3 innings.
Of the 11 strikeouts, eight saw Rays hitters go down looking.
"That's a tribute to his sharpness," Maddon said. "The home-plate umpire may have been a little wide on the edges. I didn't see that from the dugout. When the guy starts getting that close to nicking the corners, an umpire's normally going to give him that kind of stuff. But also a guy like Buehrle, with his reputation, they're going to expand the plate east and west. I think they got that tonight. ... He knows what he's doing and he knows how to take advantage of things."
Desmond Jennings allowed that Buehrle did "the same things he always does."
"He mixes up his pitches, he stays out of the middle of the plate, keeps the ball down," said Jennings, who struck out twice in three at-bats. "He's a pitcher who doesn't overpower you. He knows how to pitch. Nothing special. He's a smart pitcher and he just knows how to pitch."
Buehrle admitted to being surprised to have so many strikeouts. He finished one shy of his career high established on April 16, 2005, which was the only other time the veteran lefty reached double-digit strikeouts in 430 career starts.
"Usually I come out and strike out two in the first inning and that's it," Buehrle said. "… I don't know. You get 33 starts a year, 11 of them you're going to feel like this, where you feel like the catcher puts up his glove and you're going to hit it there. Then 11 of them you're going to feel OK and 11 of them you ain't going to know where the ball's going. Today was one of the 11 putting the ball where I wanted to. Location-wise, movement, everything was there. One of those days."
Toronto manager John Gibbons called Buehrle "really good," adding: "He might have found the fountain of youth."
Bautista fueled the Blue Jays' offense with his first two home runs of the season, one against Moore and the other against Josh Lueke.
Bautista went deep off Moore when leading off the fourth, launching a blast into the left-field stands for the game's first run.
"That was way too much in the zone," Moore said. "We know that about him. He's a very good breaking ball hitter in the zone. That was just a bad pitch. He did what he was supposed to."
Dioner Navarro added an RBI single in the fourth to push the lead to 2-0. The fourth proved to be the only blemish on Moore's 5 2/3-inning stint.
"I thought he pitched really well," Maddon said. "That's definitely good enough to win a ballgame."
Moore managed a smile when told of Maddon's comments.
"I mean really, well, I think that would be a little bit of a stretch," Moore said. "But I think overall in a couple of those innings when we had some runners on, we shut them down before they did a little more damage than they did. I'm happy about that."
This night turned out to be less about what Moore didn't do and more about what Buehrle did.
To Moore's credit, he made no excuses when asked if Buehrle's deliberate approach to pitching bothered him.
"I wouldn't say so," Moore said. ""When I looked up and we were already in the third inning, I'm like, 'That feels quick.' He probably didn't throw more than 14 pitches an inning, maybe 12, but it seemed like every four or five minutes we were back out there. It's not a bad thing, playing indoors. You don't want to sit around all that long."
Bautista's home run off Lueke marked the first run minted against the Rays' bullpen in the team's first three games.
"Overall, Matt Moore pitched well," Maddon said. "The whole bullpen did a great job. So just another well played game. They got us."
Moore got into a two-out jam in the sixth when Brett Lawrie walked and Maicer Izturis followed with a double to left. Maddon then brought in Brandon Gomes, who issued an intentional walk to Adam Lind. Jake McGee came in to pitch to Melky Cabrera and the hard-throwing left-hander retired Cabrera on a fly out to center to end the threat.
Moore allowed two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four. Of the 106 pitches he threw, 60 were strikes.