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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Tampa Bay Rays

Moore, Roberts lead Rays past Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG - If you had to pick a left-hander in the Rays rotation who would be perfect through four April starts with a tiny ERA, would you have picked Matt Moore?

Probably not, given his history of slow starts and given the fact David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, has a spot in the same rotation.

Yet, there was Moore, dominating the New York Yankees on Monday in a 5-1 victory in front of 15,331 at Tropicana Field that extended the Rays' winning streak to four and moved them to within one game of .500.

Moore set season-highs in innings pitched (eight), strikeouts (nine) and set a season-low in hits (two).

“That's what you envision,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Moore is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA. He's the first starter in franchise history to begin a season 4-0.

Not bad for someone who was winless with a 4.68 ERA in four starts last April and didn't exactly have a strong spring training.

“Probably because we talked about it so much, made such a big issue of it, he wanted to prove us wrong,” Maddon said.

Well, there is that.

There's also Moore's ability to command all of his pitches and the fact he's not overthrowing his fastball. He stayed mostly in the 92- to 94-mph range Monday.

“I think I was able to get ahead with my fastball and just really use my off-speed pitches the way they were meant to be used,” Moore said.

As for his perfect start to the season?

“Yeah, this is nice,” he said. “It's definitely something. I can't say enough about the defense and the run support I've been getting. It makes it that much easier to pitch those nights. We're in a good place right now.”

It certainly helped Moore's night when the Rays jumped all over CC Sabathia in the first inning, scoring four times.

Ryan Roberts hit the first of his two homers with one out.

Evan Longoria singled one out later. Longoria has reached base in all 19 games this season. He also extended his streak of reaching base in consecutive games to 33 dating to last season.

Rocco Baldelli holds the team record for consecutive games reaching base to begin a season with 24, set in his rookie season in 2003. Jorge Cantu is next with 20 straight games in 2005.

Sean Rodriguez, who started again at first base against the left-handed Sabathia and hit fifth for the first time this season, tripled to right field to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.

Yunel Escobar, swinging a longer, heavier bat thanks to a tip from Maddon, followed with a two-run home run to right-center field for a 4-0 lead.

It was the first time in the franchise's 2,446 games that the middle infielders homered in the same inning.

Roberts, batting in the No.2 spot for the third straight game, homered to left field to open the third inning. Tatman Two?

The Rays have homered in eight straight games. They have won five of their past six, thanks to an offense that has come to life.

But the pitching has made those runs matter on most nights during this run. Monday was the third straight game in which the Rays have allowed three or fewer hits, tying a franchise record.

Robinson Cano had the only two hits off Moore — a fourth-inning home run that broke up Moore's no-hitter and an infield single in the sixth inning.

“He had a nice rhythm about him all night,” Maddon said. “He wasn't really threatened the whole night and he stayed within his abilities, and that was fun to watch.”

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