On the bump for the second time of the young season, Matt Moore looked to rebound, both from his previous outing and season.
An All-Star in 2013, the left-hander underwent Tommy John surgery the next year. He has since finished with ERAs well over five in two of the past three seasons, which includes an unsightly 5.52 ERA just one year ago.
All this coalesces into what is a must-succeed 2018 for the former top Tampa Bay prospect.
Moore began the campaign last Saturday, March 31 with mixed results. The ugly was four earned runs in four innings of work. The promising was six strikeouts against zero walks.
Following a 36-minute rain delay Friday night in Arlington, Moore was able to get start number two underway against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
This time the results were more one-sided. Command of the fastball was an issue from the first pitch, and, by the time Moore’s line closed, he had surrendered six runs (five earned) on five hits, four walks, and a hit batsman spread across 3.1 innings.
Moore was able to skirt disaster in the first inning when he walked two batters and hit another to load the bases, only for Kendrys Morales to fly out to left field to end the inning.
After a crisp-and-clean second frame, the bases were once again loaded in the third. This time the lefty wasn’t able to avoid damage. A Russell Martin grounder up the middle brought home the Jays' first run of the ballgame. Drew Robinson then misplayed a ball in centerfield to allow the second run to score right after.
Following a Morales sac fly, Moore finished the inning with the Rangers facing a 3-0 deficit.
Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister said postgame that Moore “couldn’t seem to get his delivery consistent for himself.” Banister added that after a good start against the first two batters, Moore found a “little challenge getting the ball back in the strike zone consistently against an aggressive group of hitters.”
For his part, Moore felt he struggled to put batters away with two strikes, which was similar to his first outing. He added, “in general, felt much better…felt like I had better feel for the changeup,” something that played out in his pitch selection as the changeup became the off-speed pitch of choice as the night wore on.
The fourth inning brought across another three runs and a pitching change, which seemed to render the affair all but over.
Marco Estrada toed the rubber for Toronto and continued his dominance over the Rangers. He entered the evening with a career .208 batting average against (BAA) when facing the Rangers and spread just one run on five hits across six innings.
Through a mix of high fastballs and his typical, devastating changeup, the 34-year-old righty also managed seven punch-outs.
The Rangers bats did manage to spring to life in the sixth inning.
Rallies highlighted by a Shin-Soo Choo home run and double followed in the next two innings. Texas was back within striking distance, 8-5, at the end of the seventh inning.
It was as close as they'd come to comeback, though.
Jays relievers Ryan Tepera and Roberto Osuna stopped the bleeding and polished the game off at the same score.
Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre managed three hits and an RBI apiece. With his first rip of the night, Beltre passed Rickey Henderson for sole possession of 24th on the all-time hit list.
The loss dropped Texas to 3-6 on the year, while Toronto improved to 5-3.
The remainder of the three-game series will pit Mike Minor against Marcus Stroman on Saturday, followed by Cole Hamels squares off with offseason acquisition Jaime Garcia Sunday afternoon.