Once, this was the way Matt Moore used to look.
The profile is the same. The motion is the same. And the results were what they used to be. Yep, this is the guy you remember, all right.
Moore was his old self Thursday night. Once again, he was the guy who won 17 games. The guy who was an all-star. The guy who looked like he would be a very good thing on the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Moore — the real Moore — finally made his return to Tropicana Field Thursday night, throwing seven innings of two-hit shutout baseball in a 4-3 loss to Baltimore. Given the way the season has gone, his effort was more heartening than another defeat was disheartening.
Yeah, it was another disappointing finish for the Rays, who wasted another good start when the bullpen collapsed, but Moore’s success was enough of a bright spot for a team that seems to finishing off the season.
Moore threw 93 pitches, and he walked no one, and he left with a 3-0 lead.
This was the kind of effort you used to expect from Moore. Remember July 22, 2013? Moore was like this that night. He threw a two-hitter at Boston and won 3-0, going nine innings. Remember July 15 , 2012? He threw seven innings of one-hit baseball.
But Moore injured his arm last year and needed Tommy John surgery, and his recovery has been painstaking. He is still just 1-4 on the season with 7.06 ERA. Moore, however, can still finish strong and figure in the rotation for next season.
Moore was as close to his former self than at any time this season against the Orioles, lasting more than five innings for the first time all season. He built a 3-0 lead on a home run by John Jason and singles by Tim Beckham and Kevin Kiermaier.
It was all undone by one of the worst performances of the year from Alex Colome. Colome had pitched 21 2/3scoreless innings coming in, but he gave up all four runs in the eighth.
It was the third impressive start wasted by the Rays this week. Erasmo Ramirez threw seven innings of no-hit baseball Tuesday night, but the team blew that game. Chris Archer allowed only two runs in six innings last night, but the Rays lost. Now this.
The Rays played their 83rd game decided by two runs or fewer, the most in the majors.
Tonight, Drew Smyly will pitch against the Orioles’ Wei-Yin Chen.