SARASOTA — Manager Joe Maddon was impressed with the way LHP Matt Moore looked during Tuesday’s outing against the Twins. The arm stroke, fastball velocity, break on the curveball and deception with the changeup reminded Maddon of the way Moore looked when he beat the Rangers in Game 1 of the 2011 AL Division Series.
“That was as good as stuff as he had when he beat the Rangers several years ago in the playoff game,” Maddon said.
Moore said he has raised his hands higher in his delivery and is trying to get his front leg down faster so as to reduce the wildness caused by his long arm stroke.
“The flow was a little bit more consistent,” Moore said Wednesday. “(My hands) started a little bit higher, so what it appeared like, it may have actually appeared to be a similar mechanic to what I was going in 2011.”
Moore’s fastball was clocked at 96 mph on 10 occasions, a sign, Maddon said, that Moore is finding the rhythm to his delivery.
“You can’t throw like he threw (Tuesday) night if things weren’t more familiar mechanically,” Maddon said. “You can’t just say I’m going to throw 95 or 96, you can’t just do that unless all this other stuff is working perfectly.”
Moore, who walked six batters (including four with two outs) said his command will come. Still, he felt comfortable pitching with runners on base.
“The ball felt good coming out (of my hand),” he said. “It was getting there quick. I was happy with my aggression, where I was at, competing out there with those runners on, even if they were walks. I didn’t have a lot of contact that was on the barrel. There was some weak contact here and there.”
RF Wil Myers continued to be productive from the leadoff spot, homering to center field in his first at-bat and collecting a fourth inning single in the Rays’ 6-4 victory against the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.
Myers, who had four hits before moving to the leadoff spot Tuesday night, has five in his seven at-bats in the past two games. Four of those hits were for extra-bases – three doubles and his first home run of the spring.
“The ball is in the air a little bit more and that’s really important, because he is that kind of a hitter. He’s going to hit the doubles and homers by the ball being in the air more than likely,” Maddon said. “That first ball was absolutely crushed. When it left the pitcher’s hand I saw the ball down. I’m not expecting it to be that high, that far off the bat. So it was a pretty good stroke right there. He’s gaining confidence. He’s feeling better about himself.”
RHP Mark Lowe threw 2 1/3 innings against the Orioles, his longest outing of the spring. Lowe worked on being quicker to the plate in the third inning.
“I think physically I’m as strong as I’ve ever been,” he said. “I went an inning and two-thirds twice, so it’s a just a little bit more, maybe five, 10 more pitches than what I’ve done twice this spring. I don’t feel like I’ve lost a beat. I think everything was still sharp.”
LHP Jake McGee, pitching back-to-back for the first time this spring, replaced Lowe with one out, CF Adam Jones at second and 1B Chris Davis at-bat. McGee started the left-handed Davis off with his curveball then got Davis to ground out to second.
“When I face him during the year he’ll know I have a curveball but he won’t know when I’ll use it,” McGee said.
The 20 hits in Tuesday’s win against the Twins were the most by the Rays in spring training since 2008. It was the most the Rays had in any game since they had 22 on Sept. 5, 2007 against the Orioles. ... RHP Chris Archer pitched 5 1/3 innings Wednesday in a minor league game. He allowed three runs on six hits, a walk and struck out four. He threw 91 pitches (62 strikes). ... RHP Grant Balfour also pitched Wednesday in a minor league game. He will pitch tonight against the visiting Blue Jays. ... The Rays have scored 18 runs on 34 hits during the past two games.