There has been no sophomore jinx for Tampa Bay Rays hurler Matt Moore.
The 23-year-old looks to make it six victories in six outings this season on Friday night when he starts the opener of a three-game series with the hosting Colorado Rockies.
Moore went a solid 11-11 in 31 starts a season ago as a rookie with a 3.81 earned run average. It was impressive that he was able to finish at .500 given he went 0-1 with a 4.68 ERA in four starts in April of last year.
The left-hander has made sure not to duplicate his stumble out of the gate and wrapped up this past April 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA through five starts. His 10-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, in which he retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, made him the sixth pitcher since 1916 under the age of 24 to go 5-0 through April. He joins a list that includes among others Babe Ruth, Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden.
Moore yielded just a run on three hits over six innings versus the White Sox and struck out nine to up his season total to 38. His ERA ranks second in the American League.
"When he gets a feel for his fastball and knows where it's going, heads up, because he really feels good about the other stuff," Rays manager Joe Maddon said on his team's official website. "Fastball command makes the world go round for a pitcher. It's getting better, and as it gets better, he's going to get even better beyond the numbers you're seeing right now."
Should he win his first career start versus the Rockies, Moore would become just the fifth player since 2008 to win each of his first six starts. Boston's Clay Buchholz has already done it this season, joining Jered Weaver (2011), Zach Greinke (2009) and Cliff Lee (2008).
The Rays are in the final leg of what is now a nine-game road trip following Thursday's postponement of the finale of a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals due to wintry conditions.
The contest did start on time despite the presence of rain mixed with cold temperatures, but was halted after 3 1/2 innings with the Royals leading 1-0.
Tampa Bay is 2-4 on the road trip.
The Rockies, meanwhile, return home to first host the Rays and then the New York Yankees, having wrapped a seven-game swing with Wednesday's 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Troy Tulowitzki, who missed the previous two games with a shoulder injury, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer all finished with two hits, two RBI and a run scored, while Josh Rutledge had three hits and also drove in a run.
"We put together some good at-bats," Colorado skipper Walt Weiss said. "We did a pretty good job with that all night. Our guys battled. That's what our team does, we compete."
Colorado veteran Jeff Francis will try to pick up his first victory tonight since winning his season debut on April 5. He has gone 0-2 in four starts since and has a 7.29 ERA on the season, though he pitched well enough to win last time out.
Facing the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, the 32-year-old southpaw yielded a pair of runs on four hits and a walk over five innings as his club lost a 3-2 decision in extra innings, leaving Francis without a decision.
Francis is 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two previous meetings with the Rays. Both came in 2011 while he was with the Kansas City Royals.
The Rockies have taken two of three from the Rays in each of the previous two meetings, coming in 2009 and 2007, respectively. Both sets took place in Colorado as well.