By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – After a shortage of scoring during their recent road trip, the Detroit Tigers rediscovered their offensive rhythm in Tuesday’s 10-1 pounding of the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I don’t expect us, obviously, to score 10 runs a night,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Obviously that’d be foolish. But I do think we have a very good offense. I thought we had some good at bats up and down the lineup tonight.”
During the last week, Detroit missed out on several opportunities for wins because the team could not get its bats going. Detroit wasted great pitching as it twice fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 in 11 innings both May 28 and May 30. On Sunday in Baltimore, the Tigers lost 4-2 to the Orioles. Those losses marked particularly low points during the 1-4 stretch away from Comerica Park.
Scoring runs was not an issue Tuesday, however. Against starting Tampa Bay lefty Matt Moore, Detroit put up four in the second inning and two more in the third, and the early 6-1 lead only grew as the game progressed.
Entering the game, Moore had an 8-0 record and a 2.18 ERA. He had given up just 15 runs and 28 walks in 11 starts this season. He averaged about five and two-thirds innings per start and over 95 pitches.
In contrast, Moore’s start against the Tigers lasted 86 pitches but got him through only two-plus innings. He gave up six earned runs on seven hits and six walks. After facing five batters in the third, not yet having recorded a single out in the inning, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon pulled Moore out.
“Even when his fastball command’s not there he normally is able to get swings and misses or bad contact on the curve and the change-up,” Maddon said. “That didn’t happen today.”
Moore said he had felt good going into the game after an unusually solid bullpen session. He had not started a full game since May 25 because his May 31 start was limited to one inning because of a rain delay, but he said that any rust from the extra time between full starts was not his problem.
“Somewhere in the second inning I just lost that feel for my release point,” Moore said. “I was trying a couple different things that typically will help me at least figure a way out to throw it in there belt-high, but it was kind of one of those things where I was trying a couple different things and lost my release points.”
Leyland recognized Moore was wild and that his lack of control made it easier for the batters, but Leyland still appreciated the patience with which the Detroit hitters approached Moore, who starting out the game throwing what Maddon termed his best fastball of the season.
“It’s not easy to lay off 94, 95 sometimes, because you’ve got to get kind of started to catch up with it, and he’s got the good change-up and a good breaking ball, so I thought we did a terrific job,” Leyland said. “I thought we had a good game plan. Of course he helped us out because he was wild tonight. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want it to sound like we were perfect.
“I thought the key to the game was, as soon as they scored, we came right back,” Leyland added.