ST. petersburg, FLA.
Winless as a rookie last April, Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore is off to an impressive start in 2013.
The 23-year-old left-hander pitched six sharp innings and Ben Zobrist drove in three runs to lead the Rays over the Cleveland Indians, 4-0, on Friday night.
Moore (1-0) limited the Indians to a pair of hits by Michael Bourn, walked two and struck out eight. He retired his final eight batters and came out after 100 pitches.
“It was the perfect time to get him out — 100 pitches, six innings,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He goes home feeling really good about himself. That’s a great game for him to build on.”
Moore has been a notoriously slow starter throughout his pro career. He was winless in four April starts in his first full season in the majors. Including five minor league seasons, he entered Friday with a 4.52 ERA in April and May compared to 2.30 ERA over his career in June to October.
“It feels good for us to have a combined shutout like that. It’s something we really work towards every game, and to have the first one of the year on my night feels nice,” Moore said.
The lefty struggled with command of his fastball for most of spring training, but began to feel better about his performance in his final exhibition start last weekend.
“It’s really just a matter of keeping that tempo where it was in that exhibition game against Detroit. I felt like it was right there,” Moore said. “Just by the results of that outing, it felt like something picked up. For me, it was my tempo. That cleaned up everything.”
Zobrist, who has driven in a team-leading seven runs in four games, did most of the damage against Zach McAllister (0-1) with a pair of doubles.
Bourn reached on an infield single in the first and doubled into the left-field corner in the third. Only two other runners reached base against Moore, who walked Mike Aviles in the third and Michael Brantley in the fourth.
“He wasn’t throwing anything up there that we haven’t seen. I think we didn’t take advantage of, when we had guys on base and didn’t come up with the big hit,” Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis said.
“He had his off-speed stuff working. Pounding the zone. Working ahead of guys,” the Indians’ Nick Swisher added. “He really, really kind of got into that groove, and made it a tough day.”
Jake McGee and Brandon Gomes each worked a perfect inning for the Rays. Joel Peralta finished the two-hitter with a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Indians, who were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, struck out 11 times and didn’t have a baserunner after the fourth inning.
Two of Tampa Bay’s four runs off McAllister were unearned. Cleveland’s starter allowed six hits, walked none and struck out three over six innings.