The Rays expected rookie lefty Matt Moore to be better than this.
They were confident enough Moore was ready to pitch, and to win, in the majors that they carved out a spot in the rotation for him, forcing a decision for the last spot between incumbents Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis, with Davis losing out and moving to the bullpen.
But a month into the season, Moore has been unimpressive and inconsistent, winning only once in six starts and sporting an ugly 5.71 ERA after a rough Sunday outing.
Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged the "inconsistencies of youth" and said the Rays knew it wouldn't be easy for Moore."I don't want to say almost expected, but it's not surprising that something like this happened," Maddon said. "We have to keep working with him, keep showing support. And when we do that, he's going to come out the other side." Moore said he feels fine physically, and that confidence isn't an issue. The biggest problem has been a lack of command, leading to him falling behind in the count too often and throwing too many pitches.
"That wasn't fun," Moore said. "It turned into eight pretty quickly, before I really realized it."
--LF Desmond Jennings left Sunday's game after three innings with what the Rays described as "left knee soreness." He was hurt on a head-first slide into home in the first inning and felt more discomfort as the game went on. The Rays said they may know more on Monday.
--LHP Cesar Ramos was summoned from Class AAA Durham to bolster a taxed bullpen that had to cover 8 1/3 innings on Saturday, taking the place for RHP Brandon Gomes. Ramos was 2-1, 1.69 with a save in 12 games for the Bulls, holding lefties hitless in 19 at-bats.
--RHP Jeremy Hellickson turned in the shortest of his 39 major league starts on Saturday, lasting just 3 2/3 innings vs. Oakland because he had thrown 102 pitches (including 43 for balls). "Not pleased at all," Hellickson said. "I felt good. I've just got to throw more strikes."
--Manager Joe Maddon joined another exclusive club on Saturday, one of only five men in the modern era to manage 1,000 games for a team without having played in the majors. The others: Earl Weaver (Orioles), Joe McCarthy (Yankees), Jim Leyland (Pirates, Tigers), Danny Ozark (Phillies).
--CF B.J. Upton moved into the No. 2 spot in the order Friday at the suggestion of the crowd at the annual Tampa Chamber of Commerce luncheon, and manager Joe Maddon said he liked the look enough that he may stick with it for a while anyway. "He looked good right there," Maddon said. "It's something I've been thinking about, we've talked about since spring training. Just talked about maybe the right time to try to get it done. ... Maybe it's the right time; we'll find out."
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Days off for the Rays in a 30-day stretch from April 24-May 23 (Monday).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We try not to hang our heads for too long. And even though it was definitely a tough loss -- it hurt -- why not dance our pain away, I guess. Let's just say that if we would have won, the party would have been a lot better." -- 1B Carlos Pena, explaining why there was a three-piece mariachi band in the Rays clubhouse after Saturday's extra-inning loss.