Outfielder drives in four runs; Ray fans five in two frames for win
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers and Florida Southern College have a Spring Training tradition going with their annual exhibition game. Steven Moya is making a tradition out of big hits in that tilt.
A year after putting up three hits against the Mocs as an extra player called up for the day, Moya, the club's No. 12 prospect, topped that by driving in four runs with a double and a triple, keying a middle-inning onslaught in a 12-0 Tigers win Tuesday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Unofficially, it was the first game for Brad Ausmus managing the Tigers. By contrast, it's the fourth Spring Training in which Moya has played in a game for the big club. This is the first year, though, that Moya has come to Spring Training with a spot on the 40-man roster.
The Tigers have long seen raw potential in the lanky outfielder. He's listed at 6-foot-6 but says he's 6-foot-7, and he has added some bulk to a frame that resembled more of a small forward in college basketball than a corner outfielder in baseball.
Moya's swing is similarly big, and it put him on the run for most of the afternoon. After replacing Torii Hunter in the second inning, Moya came up in the third inning of a scoreless game and sent a ground ball just inside first base and down the right-field line for a two-run double.
Two innings later, Moya connected for a line drive deep into the gap in right-center field, driving in two more before scoring on a Don Kelly infield single.
"I was just looking for a pitch in my zone," Moya said. "These guys are college guys, they have different pitches and locations. I was just looking for a pitch to hit. On the double, I had one strike, so I was just looking for a pitch to hit. It was a curveball."
Robbie Ray, the prospect acquired in the Doug Fister trade, picked up the win by striking out five batters over two scoreless innings. He recovered from a Conor Szczerba double leading off the fourth inning by striking out back-to-back hitters, and catcher James McCann threw out Szczerba trying to steal third.
"It's always different when you go to a live game situation, as opposed to facing pitchers in batting practice," Ausmus said. "For a lot of guys, it's the first game they've seen in months. It's good to kind of start shaking the rust off."