NEW YORK - LHP Matt Moore returns to the mound today for the first time since his first career complete-game victory, which came Monday in Boston when he blanked the Red Sox 3-0.
The 24-year-old Moore (14-3, 3.17 ERA) can become the youngest pitcher since 22-year-old Greg Maddux in 1988 to win 15 games before Aug. 1.
Pitchers like to take momentum from their previous start to the mound, and Moore is certainly on a roll when it comes to that. He has won his past six starts and pitched a perfect inning for the American League in the All-Star game. Though Moore said nothing during that run compared to the feeling of shaking hands with C Jose Lobaton near the Fenway Park mound Monday.
"That was probably the best feeling I've had on the field, being able to shake the catcher's hand for the first time," Moore said. "I've seen Roy Halladay do it a million times. A lot of guys don't complete games.
"Watching (James) Shields go about his business, how important that was to him, it really started creeping into my mind about when I was going to do something like that."
RHP Alex Cobb, whose return from a concussion is on hold until the blister on his right index finger heals, threw a bullpen Saturday while wearing a bandage over the blister.
He can't do that during a game, though, so the blister will have to heal enough for him to throw without a protective covering before he can pitch in a game.
That could happen by mid-week. If so, Cobb's return to the rotation could happen on the next road trip.
All those off days in August - five in the first 22 days - means the Rays can play around with the rotation.
One option the team is exploring is a four-man rotation. The Rays could drop a pitcher - RHP Roberto Hernandez? - from the rotation or use the off days to skip starters in an effort to reduce their innings in August and make them a little fresher for September, when the Rays play 28 games in 29 days.
DH Luke Scott was not in Saturday's lineup against Yankees RHP Daniel Nova because of tightness in his back.
Manager Joe Maddon said Scott would receive treatment during the game and hoped to use him as a pinch-hitter, but Scott was never needed.
"I'm fine," Scott said after the game. "Back's just a little stiff, that's all."
Maddon's fourth grandchild was born early Saturday in Mesa, Ariz. His son named the baby Giuseppe Ennio. Maddon loves the baby's middle name.
"Which means predestined," Maddon said. "My son does all kinds of research.
"He wanted to hold on to the Italian heritage. He threw it out there, and I thought it was fantastic."
Was it a coincidence that a grandchild whose middle name is Italian for predestined was born just hours after the Rays moved into first place?
"That's little Giuseppe at work right there," Maddon said.
Matsui retires today
Hideki Matsui, who played his final major-league game last season with the Rays, will sign a one-day contract today with the Yankees and officially retire during a pregame ceremony.
"Truly it's great that he's retiring at a Yankee," Maddon said. "And I feel we are very fortunate that we were able to cross his path for a bit."
The Rays won their first series at Yankee Stadium since May 2010, snapping a streak of nine winless series. . The Rays have won their past nine series. . RF Wil Myers extended his hitting streak to eight games, but saw his streak of consecutive multihit games end at seven. . 3B Evan Longoria extended his hitting streak to nine games, marking the third time this season he's hit in at least nine straight games. . With two hits Saturday, 1B James Loney raised his major league-best road batting average to .371. . The non-waiver trade deadline is at 4 p.m. Wednesday but the Rays are not expected to make any moves. . Maddon said he was honored to be immortalized in a sand sculpture Saturday when a likeness of his Joe Maddon Gnome was constructed on St. Pete Beach to promo Saturday's giveaway. Now it can be said Maddon is full of sand. "I can be at times," he said.