Rays left-hander Matt Moore experienced some growing pains last summer but still wound up posting a respectable 3.81 ERA over 177 1/3 innings. This season, at age 23, he looks ready to become a legitimate ace.
Moore allowed only one run and struck out nine over six innings Saturday in the Rays’ 10-4 win over the White Sox and is now 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 32 innings (five starts) this year.
“Honestly, (Moore’s) one of the better pitchers I’ve ever faced,” White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie told reporters after Saturday’s game. “He moves the ball both sides of the plate, throwing curve balls for strikes. Sometimes you’re just going to run into that at this level, guys that are just on. He was on tonight. There’s not much we can do.”
Moore, an eighth-round pick out of a New Mexico high school in 2007, has one of the most team-friendly contracts in high-level professional sports.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.