So close! Moore one pitch from franchise first
Southpaw almost throws immaculate inning
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have never pitched an immaculate inning. And while they still haven’t, left-handed reliever Matt Moore nearly made history in his outing on Wednesday night.
He threw just nine pitches in the sixth inning, and was one pitch away from the achievement. He opened the sixth inning on six pitches with back-to-back strikeouts to JJ Matijevic and Jeremy Peña. After Moore dealt two more strikes to Jason Castros, the catcher grounded out softly to first baseman Nathaniel Lowe.
“I was aware of it,” Moore said of losing the immaculate inning. “But no [it wasn’t disappointing] because we got the out. The immaculate stuff is just kind of cool to say that you'd have done it before, but in general, the clean inning is my biggest goal.”
And he did just that. Moore dealt two scoreless innings in the Rangers’ 4-3 loss to the Astros at Globe Life Field, lowering his season ERA to 1.08.
Rangers fans may remember Moore from his first stint with the club in 2018. It wasn’t pretty, as he posted a 6.79 ERA over 102 innings split between a starter and a reliever. Now back in Texas, Moore is hoping for a smoother ride. He’s off to a good start.
Through five relief outings, he’s allowed just one run on four hits and eight walks, while striking out 10. The walk-rate could stand to be better, but everything else Moore is doing is making up for it.
While Moore, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, didn’t make the squad out of camp, he was called up when reliever Josh Sborz went on the injured with right elbow soreness last week. He’s used that time to give the coaching staff a reason to consider keeping him in the bullpen long term.
“Yeah, that’s pretty safe to say,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward confirmed about keeping Moore with the big league club. “He’s about as dominant as we have right now. You saw what he did to those guys tonight.
“He’s executing pitches, the way he's using that curveball. The fastball has got a ton of life to it. He's making a pretty good argument to be more than that, to be honest with you. I look at him as somewhat of a leverage guy. He's got experience. He's confident with the stuff right now and it's been fun to watch.”
Moore credits co-pitching coaches Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara for helping him tweak the grip on his curveball, which he threw 12 times (40 percent) in his outing against the Astros, and just slightly adjusting the grip on his four-seamer. Statcast registers the new curveball as a knuckle curve, which Moore says is accurate.
He said he’s not sure who between Mathis and Sagara first showed him the new grips, but it allows him to feel different and more in control with those pitches.
The curveball specifically, Moore said, used to be a lot more effective for him than it became in recent years. He never could figure out why until working with the Rangers’ pitching coaches.
“I’ve thrown a curveball for a long time, but never one quite like this,” Moore said. “Right now it feels like the type of weapon that I know the hitter has to be ready for, which also makes my other stuff feel better coming out … it’s the same pitch I’ve always thrown, it’s just like a quarter of an inch from where my thumb was.”
Moore added that Phillies pitching coaches Caleb Cotham and David Lundquist helped him a lot when he was with that club in 2021, but he’s never been around two coaches like Mathis and Sagara that play so well off each other and develop pitchers together.
“I think in general with my repertoire, [Cothan and Lundquist] helped me out with what I had,” Moore said. “It feels like now I almost have a different curveball than I had last year. It feels like from the get-go I have something to build on. Like, if I know this is a weapon, how can I use my other pitches to make this pitch better? More than anything, I’m trying to stay with the stuff that I’m focused on now and not trying to do anything new and stay in the groove a little bit.”