Matt Moore to make first MLB start Thursday vs. Yankees

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The Rays suffered 4-2 defeats in both halves of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Yankees, dropping a half-game in the AL Wild Card standings despite the Red Sox’ 6-4 loss to the Orioles.

Well aware that another loss could sink the Rays’ chances of overtaking Boston by the end of the regular season, Rays manager Joe Maddon has made an aggressive but warranted move.

According to beat writer Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, rookie Matt Moore will take the mound in Thursday evening’s series finale against New York. It will be the first major league start of the 22-year-old left-hander’s career.

Jeff Niemann, who was originally scheduled to make the start, has been bumped to Saturday.

Widely regarded as baseball’s best pitching prospect, Moore posted a 1.92 ERA and 210/46 K/BB ratio in 155 innings this season between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham before earning a mid-September promotion to the majors. He’ll be taking on a Yankees squad fresh off an AL East title celebration.

Tampa Bay faces a 2.5-game Wild Card deficit with only seven games left to play.

Video: Willy Adames takes Chris Sale yard for first major league homer

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Rays shortstop prospect Willy Adames took Red Sox starter and 2017 AL Cy Young Award runner-up Chris Sale yard for his first major league home run on Tuesday night. It was his second major league at-bat. The dinger cut the Rays’ deficit to 3-1.

The Rays called Adames up from Triple-A Durham ahead of Tuesday’s game. Adames is the Rays’ No. 2 prospect and No. 22 in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. With Durham, he hit .311/.387/.466 with four home runs and 25 RBI in 173 plate appearances.

Manager Kevin Cash said that Adames is only going to be with the Rays for two or three days while Joey Wendle is on paternity leave, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported. Adames is making his case to stay longer.