Matt Moore is enjoying the first winning streak of his young career. If he can stretch the run to four straight starts this evening, he'll give the Tampa Bay Rays a series victory over the Washington Nationals.
Moore takes the hill for the finale of this three-game series having pitched to a 2.37 earned run average with 21 strikeouts over this winning streak, which includes recent back-to-back wins over the Marlins.
The left-hander, who turned 23 on Monday, has received plenty of support over his win streak, with the Rays plating 28 runs while he has been on the mound. They had scored only 28 runs total with Moore on the hill in his previous 10 starts.
Moore didn't need the support on Friday versus Miami, though certainly welcomed it. He hurled seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball, walking three and striking out eight in an 11-0 triumph.
"We obviously had a bunch of offense tonight, so that makes it a lot easier [to pitch]," said Moore. "It was definitely a good clean defensive game and that helped me get through seven."
Moore will face the Nationals for the first time and brings a 4-5 record and 4.16 ERA over 13 starts into the outing. That includes just a 1-2 mark and 5.01 ERA in four on the road.
After the Rays took Tuesday's opener -- one that featured the ejection of Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta in the eighth inning after umpires discovered he had pine tar in his glove -- the Nationals snapped a four-game slide both overall and to the Rays with last night's 3-2 win.
Washington got all of its runs in the first, with Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond both driving in runs with singles. Harper also scored in the frame on a throwing error by Tampa Bay's Elliot Johnson.
Stephen Strasburg took over from there and gave up two runs, five hits and a pair of walks over seven innings while striking out 10. His effort allowed the Nats to win despite logging just three hits.
"He's a true No. 1 and he's still learning," remarked Davey Johnson about Strasburg. "I think the best is yet to come with him."
While Washington leads the New York Mets by three games for first place in the National League East, the Rays remained three games behind the New York Yankees for the top spot in the AL East. They had won three of four prior to Wednesday's loss.
Rays starter Chris Archer nearly matched Strasburg in his MLB debut, giving up three runs -- one earned -- on three hits and a walk while fanning seven over six frames.
Jose Molina belted a solo home run and Hideki Matsui added an RBI base hit for Tampa Bay, which was left baffled by Strasburg.
"He threw some changeups that were just absolutely devastating and truly, basically impossible to hit," admitted Rays first baseman Carlos Pena about Strasburg. "If you're human, I don't know if you can hit those changeups."
Gio Gonzalez will follow up Strasburg tonight for the Nats and has lost two of three starts since winning five in a row.
The lefty was handed a defeat versus the Yankees on Friday, yielding three runs on five hits and two walks. He also struck out six in six-plus innings, but fell to 8-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 13 starts.
Gonzalez, 26, has done a great job of keeping teams from going deep this year. He hasn't allowed a homer in five straight starts and has yielded just one in 78 2/3 frames this season.
Gonzalez is 1-1 with a 4.86 ERA in four career meetings with the Rays, including two starts.