In first outing since April 2014, Rays lefty starts strong, then tails off
By Troy Provost-Heron
ST. PETERSBURG -- As he prepared to make his first start for the Rays since April 7, 2014, Matt Moore reflected on the 451-day process it took to get him back on a Major League mound.
"Just certain feelings that you get throughout the day when it's your turn to pitch," Moore said after the Rays' 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Indians on Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field. "You don't get those on any other day. I would say that at some point this morning, putting my shoes on and just heading to the field, understand this is my turn, a little over 14 months [after the injury], it felt good."
In his return from Tommy John surgery, Moore had his ups and downs, receiving a no-decision after he allowed four runs on six hits while striking out four in 4 2/3 innings.
"It actually felt a little more normal," Moore said. "From not only warmup, but from pitch one to [Jason] Kipnis. I feel like I was able to feel myself driving that ball down and away to him so that was nice to feel. I kind of thought there might have been more nervous body type issues, but really it felt normal."
The left-hander kicked off his return by tossing three no-hit innings, surrendering a walk to Ryan Raburn to lead off the second.
In the fourth, though, Moore ran into some trouble after allowing back-to-back singles to Kipnis and Francisco Lindor to open the frame. However, he allowed only one run on a Michael Brantley sacrifice fly.
There was no escape in the fifth, however, as Moore got the first two batters, but allowed Giovanny Urshela to reach on a single and followed that up with a walk to Mike Aviles, which included his third wild pitch of the day. From there Kipnis, Lindor and Brantley all raked RBI singles to push across three runs for the Indians and give them a 4-2 lead before Steve Geltz came in for the Rays and stopped the bleeding.
"I have to be better than four singles and a walk," Moore said. "I've got to be able to get out of that inning. Any time we can put up two like that, especially against a guy like Corey Kluber, you can't squander that.
"It was a tough, in-game type of adjustment, but I've got to be better than that right there in that moment."
The outing not only marked the first for Moore since undergoing surgery on April 22, 2014, but it also marked the first time that he had worked with Rays catcher Rene Rivera, giving Moore another reason to have confidence moving forward.
"At the end of the day, I wanted to be able to look at myself and know that I went out there and competed and didn't leave anything out there on the table," Moore said. "I feel like that's is what me and Rene did for our first time throwing together."
Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.