Matt Moore

Youthful Rays appear rattled in Game 1 rout

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Technically, the Rays went errorless in Friday’s 12-2 loss to the Red Sox. Which just further demonstrates how silly judging things based on errors can be.

After three innings without allowing a hit, Matt Moore gave up a Dustin Pedroia single to start the fourth with the Rays up 2-0. David Ortiz followed with a long drive to the warning track in right. Wil Myers had the ball lined up, only to let it drop at the last minute. He thought someone called him off, though center fielder Desmond Jennings did no such thing. The incident happened in front of the Red Sox bullpen, but if a reliever was trying to throw Myers off, it wasn’t captured on camera. Maybe a fan called for the ball, though with all the noise, it’s hard to see how that would have gotten through. Myers, himself, didn’t seem to have any idea who called him off. Perhaps we’ll find out after the game (And we did, Myers said he wasn’t called off, just that he saw Jennings out of the corner of his eye and gave up on the ball).

The ball ended up bouncing over the fence for a double. And the floodgates were opened. With the score tied 2-2, Stephen Drew hit a little grounder to James Loney’s right that the first baseman handled. Moore was just a smidgen late getting over to cover, then compounded his mistake by realizing too late that Jonny Gomes was trying to score from second. That made it 3-2. Jacoby Ellsbury later reached on a strikeout/passed ball. The inning ended at 5-2.

The follies kept coming in the fifth. Mike Napoli should have been thrown out easily trying for second on his shot off the Green Monster, but Sean Rodriguez’s throw was poor and he was called safe (though he appeared to be out anyway). An intentional walk followed, then came another double, again poorly played by Rodriguez. That resulted in Moore’s exit. After the second out of the inning, Will Middlebrooks was intentionally walked. Ellsbury then hit a shot back up the middle that ricocheted off Wesley Wright’s glove and past Yunel Escobar at shortstop. 8-2.

Four more runs followed in the eighth.

Myers, the AL Rookie of the Year favorite, heard it all game after his miscue and finished 0-for-4.

Moore, a 17-game winner in the regular season, ended up allowing eight runs — seven earned — in 4 1/3 innings. Maybe only three of those runs were truly earned, but the fourth-inning mental error loomed large.

The Rays will probably put Moore in the pen for the rest of the series now, though he likely won’t be available until Game 4. Because of the two off days, Game 2 starter David Price can come back and pitch if there’s a Game 5.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.