After a terrific start to the year, Matt Moore has come undone over the last two weeks.
Manager Joe Maddon believes it's only a matter of time until he gets back on track.
Moore tries to avoid losing a career worst-tying fourth consecutive start as the Tampa Bay Rays open a four-game set against the New York Yankees on Thursday night.
Moore (8-3, 4.12 ERA) opened 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA, but he's been knocked around in losing each of his three starts this month. The 24-year-old left-hander, surrendering an AL-worst 4.72 walks per nine innings, has allowed 20 runs, 26 hits and 11 free passes in 12 1-3 innings during his skid.
"If you just think about what I've done the last few starts, it's pretty disappointing," said Moore, who lost four straight outings Aug. 30-Sept. 16. "Anytime that the command is not there, usually it's something that had to do with my delivery."
Moore saw his woes continue Friday in a 7-2 loss to Kansas City, yielding five runs, seven hits and four walks over 5 1-3 innings.
"I believe it's going to come," Maddon told MLB's official website. "I'm not overtly worried about it. I don't know exactly when it's going to be consistent. But this guy is going to be a very, very good major league pitcher. Already is. It's just a little bit frustrating to watch right now."
Moore has allowed a combined two runs in two starts spanning 14 innings against New York this year, going 1-0 with a .146 opponent batting average. He's 3-2 with a 3.57 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 35 1-3 innings over six matchups in the series.
Vernon Wells and Jayson Nix are a combined 2 for 22 against Moore, though Robinson Cano is 4 for 12 with a homer. Wells is 6 for 56 in 16 games this month.
The Yankees (39-32) counter with Andy Pettitte (5-4, 3.95), who gave up four runs and a season-high 11 hits in seven innings Friday in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
"It was frustrating," said Pettitte, who turned 41 on Saturday. "I felt pretty good, but my command definitely wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. ... You've got to make quality pitches. I was just trying to be real aggressive with all of my pitches."
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in his last four home starts and also has struggled against the Rays lately, going 1-3 with a 5.04 ERA over a five-start stretch.
Pettitte, who struck out a season-best 10 in six innings during a 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay on April 24, is 12 strikeouts away from tying Whitey Ford's franchise record of 1,956.
While Evan Longoria is 2 for 21 with one homer and 11 strikeouts versus Pettitte, Ben Zobrist is 9 for 22 with two home runs.
The Rays (37-35) entered Wednesday having dropped eight of 10 before winning 6-2 at Boston. Desmond Jennings hit his ninth homer and prized prospect Wil Myers, playing in his third game, collected his first two RBIs.
"He's the proverbial five-tool guy - maybe the six-tool with the makeup, too," Maddon said of Myers. "He's on the right path."
The Yankees have lost six of eight after splitting Wednesday's doubleheader with the Dodgers.
New York and Tampa Bay have split six meetings this season - all at Tropicana Field. The Rays haven't won any of their last eight series in the Bronx.
The Associated Press News Service
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