Matt Moore And Rays Host Toronto Blue Jays
By: Michael Robinson
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
The American League East action gets underway early on Thursday with an afternoon tilt between the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays.
First pitch from Tropicana Field will be at 1:10 p.m. (ET). Don Best is sending out Tampa as a solid $2.00 home favorite with a total of seven runs in the finale of a 3-game series.
Matt Moore (8-7, 3.84 ERA) will be on the hill for the Rays and is a big reason for their favorite status. He’s looking like the guy from last year who got called up at the end of the season and pitched great through the playoffs.
The 23-year-old lefty has over a 16-inning scoreless streak going and his home ERA for the season (3.36) is far lower than away (4.63). He is 3-1 in four starts since the All-Star break with a paltry 1.46 ERA.
Henderson Alvarez (7-8, 4.47 ERA) is the opposing pitcher and is 2-1 in his last three starts. The ‘under’ has been a solid play for him lately at 3-1 in the last four. Don Best MLB analyst Kenny White points to poor run support as one reason, nine total runs scored in three of those contests.
White also likes the ‘stuff’ of the 22-year-old right-hander with a 93 mph fastball, curve and slider. Alvarez’ most recent start against the Rays this year came in mid-May, surrendering just two earned runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-3 loss. He was somewhat lucky in allowing 10 hits and will need to lower that number on Thursday.
Looking at the big picture in the AL East, the Rays are 57-52 pending Wednesday night’s result. They took the first game of the series on Tuesday by a score of 4-1. Tampa is just six games back of the suddenly-struggling Yankees and right in the thick of the wild-card.
Getting Evan Longoria back from the disabled list should make a huge difference for Tampa and he was 1-for-3 with an RBI in his first game back on Tuesday. White loves the managing of Joe Maddon who has the coaching pedigree and experience to make another strong run.
Toronto (53-56) is in the division basement, even below the underachieving Red Sox, and hasn’t hit or pitched particularly well since the break.
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