While he's still seeking his first victory, highly touted Matt Moore showed glimpses of his tremendous potential during his last outing.
A matchup with the punchless Seattle Mariners could help him finally get in the win column.
With third baseman Evan Longoria uncertain to be available, Moore looks to help the Tampa Bay Rays extend their best home start in franchise history Tuesday night in the second of four against the Mariners.
After taking two of three during a quick stop in Texas over the weekend, Tampa Bay (15-8) continued its recent domination at Tropicana Field with Monday's 3-2, 12-inning victory over Seattle (11-13). B.J. Upton singled in the game-tying run in the 11th before Elliot Johnson's RBI single in the 12th sealed the deal for the Rays, who own the majors' best home record at 9-1.
"We keep battling back. That's what I love about these guys," said manager Joe Maddon, whose club sits alone atop the AL East.
"It's a great place to be at the end of April. Now we've just got to keep pushing forward."
Tampa Bay seems to have a good chance at doing just that with Moore (0-1, 4.68 ERA) on the hill.
After allowing a combined 11 runs and 12 walks in his first three starts spanning 19 1-3 innings, Moore came out with perhaps his best April outing in Thursday's 4-3 walk-off win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The 22-year-old left-hander carried a no-hitter into the fifth before running into trouble in the sixth. Moore wound up being charged with three runs over 5 2-3 innings, walking two and striking out a season-high six.
"I just felt like the timing of all my stuff was better," Moore told the league's official website. "I wasn't thinking about mechanics or mechanisms and all that stuff that sometimes you get to thinking about. I was just going down the hill and going right at them, and that made all my pitches sharper and the quality of them better."
Moore squares off against a Mariners lineup that's failed to get much going lately. Since opening its current 10-game trip with four straight wins while totaling 30 runs, Seattle has scored a combined four and gone hitless in 25 at_bats with runners in scoring position during a three-game slide.
The Mariners could have a hard time getting back on track behind Hector Noesi (1-2, 8.83). Aside from throwing eight innings of five-hit ball during a 4-0 win over Oakland on April 14, Noesi has been hit extremely hard. In his other three outings, the right-hander is 0-2 while surrendering 17 runs over 9 1-3 innings.
In his most recent start, Noesi held the Tigers scoreless over four innings before yielding a combined four runs in the fifth and sixth during Thursday's 5-4 road victory.
"It was a better day for him today," manager Eric Wedge said. "He has a lot to draw from today. That's more in the realm of where he needs to be. ... But he's got to find a way to get through that."
Noesi, who went 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA over two starts against the Rays last season while with the New York Yankees, could catch a break if Longoria can't play.
Longoria was replaced by Johnson in the third inning Monday after leaving with soreness in his left knee. He is listed as day-to-day.
Tampa Bay signed two-time All-Star Hideki Matsui to a minor league contract Monday. He is expected to report to extended spring training in Port Charlotte on Wednesday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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