Moore tosses two scoreless frames in debut

Rangers expect bounceback season from lefty, who was acquired in December

February 28th, 2018

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Before Matt Moore's Cactus League debut for the Rangers on Wednesday, manager Jeff Banister said the most important thing he hoped to see from the recently acquired left-hander would simply be "walking off the mound healthy."

Moore did that, and more, retiring six of seven batters in two scoreless innings to start the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the White Sox.

"I'm pretty happy with that right there," Moore said.

As time goes on, the Rangers will also want to see Moore walk off the mound with better results than his aberrant 2017 season. He lost a National League-high 15 games and allowed an NL-high 107 earned runs, as he went 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA in 32 games (31 starts) for the Giants.

Moore went 45-33 with a 3.91 ERA over six seasons, mostly with the Rays, before he veered off course in 2017.

"There were some competitive games there [last season]," Moore said. "It just kind of got out of reach there in the fifth or sixth inning, so it didn't seem like it was maybe as lopsided as my overall season numbers went.

"I knew my stuff was there, it was a matter of one inning turning into something it never should have, or letting a homer change the game or something like that."

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The Rangers traded for Moore in December, sending two Minor Leaguers to the Giants.

Banister said before Moore's start that the lefty's track record gives the Rangers confidence that he'll bounce back.

"You've got to start with the history of, he's actually done it -- that's the No. 1 thing, it wasn't just on occasion, he did it for quite a while," Banister said. "Every organization, when they look at whether it's a position player, a pitcher, a guy has a down year off of what they've done previously, you start looking, thinking, 'Why?'

"A comparative analysis, there are some things that we've identified that we felt like, that we can get him back to. This is a dynamic pitcher. There was no real injury to point to that [would] be a detriment. This is more a few mechanical adjustments, and some planning and approach-type situations."

Moore had a crisp first inning, striking out White Sox leadoff man and inducing flyouts from and . In the second, stroked a leadoff double to left-center field. But Moore retired the next three batters on a foul popup, a flyout to right and a popup to second.

"If the manager and pitching coach could draw it up, that'd be the way they'd like it -- a clean first inning, and then have to work out of a runner on second with no outs like that," Moore said.

Moore is perhaps best known around North Texas for his masterful performance in Game 1 of the 2011 American League Division Series, when he pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed only two hits in a 9-0 Rays victory. The Rangers went on to win the ALDS and reach the World Series, but for then-22-year-old Moore, it was a pivotal moment.

"I've relived that game probably more than any other," Moore said.

Moore is hoping Globe Life Park will once again be an ideal place to pitch. And perhaps the change of scenery alone will help.

"It's going to be pretty much the opposite of where I was last year," Moore said. "I'm not hitting. It's going to be hot every night instead of chilly. A lot of things … I am looking forward to the fresh start. It's something that we can start building on something for this year, and close the book from last year."