- 142 wins
- 110 wins
ST. PETERSBURG -- After a week's worth of ugly in three long days hosting the Mets, the Rays pulled it together Friday night to pick on a familiar whipping boy.
Yes, the Marlins arrived to town and there's just something about their South Florida visitors that brings out the best in the Rays.
Last weekend, the Rays dominated a three-game series in Miami over the Marlins, outscoring their Florida-state rival, 22-7. Friday night's game brought a different venue in Tropicana Field, but the same result as Marlins Park in an 11-0 Rays win.
"That's a perfect example of not getting too high when things are going well and not getting too down when things are going poorly," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Twenty-four hours makes a huge difference. That's the exact opposite game than we've played the last three nights. It's refreshing. Our starting pitching did a great job and we got the hits when we needed them, everybody up and down the lineup."
The Rays have now won eight straight against the Marlins dating back to May 22, 2011, which extended the Rays' longest winning streak against the Marlins while setting a new longest winning streak against a National League team.
Like most any Rays win, Friday night's began with a stellar effort by a starting pitcher. Matt Moore made his 13th start of the season and the 22-year-old left-hander just seems to keep getting better after getting off to a slow start this season.
Moore logged a 25-pitch first inning that suggested he might be in for a long night. That suggestion looked even stronger when Moore walked Justin Ruggiano to start the second. Appearances can be deceiving, which Moore proved by striking out the next three hitters he faced.
"I'm definitely not thinking about what just happened," said Moore when asked about what he was thinking after walking Ruggiano. "I'm more so thinking about what I'm about to do. And I think that's kind of where I need to stay as far as not thinking about what just happened, thinking about what I'm going to do and focusing on that very next pitch."
From that point on, Moore settled into a nice groove, allowing just one hit in seven innings en route to his fourth win of the season. Moore became the first Rays starter to hold the opposing team to one hit or less in seven innings or more of work since Matt Garza threw a no-hitter against the Tigers on July 26, 2010.
Moore "really settled in, how about the curveball strike?" Maddon said. "That was a big difference, in that once he settled in. I loved the fastball, but I liked the fact he commanded the breaking ball without trying to over-throw it, making it too good of a pitch. Then it started becoming a strike and now they have to honor fastball and breaking ball mentally. That makes it very difficult. So once he got in the groove with the breaking ball strike, it made it a little bit easier for him."
The Rays' offense afforded Moore a level of comfort by getting busy early.
Jose Lobaton had an RBI double, Desmond Jennings singled home another and B.J. Upton capped the scoring in a three-run third with a bases-loaded walk.
Will Rhymes, playing third base, did his best Evan Longoria imitation with a pair of RBI singles. And Zobrist went 2-for-3 with a home run to continue to ride a hot streak that has seen him record five consecutive multiple hit games while going 12-for-22 with three home runs, eight RBIs and six walks during his six-game hitting streak. He has raised his average 35 points in the last week.
Meanwhile, Carlos Pena compiled one of the oddest, but most effective, lines of the season by walking four times in five at-bats and scoring four runs.
"When he's walking he's hitting, because what he's doing is he's accepting his walks and he's narrowing it down to pitches he can really do something with, then you're going to see that hard contact come back," Maddon said.
Making Pena's walks more perplexing was the fact the Rays first baseman is hitting just .187, a number indicating a pitcher might want to take his chances throwing him a strike. Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen stated the obvious.
"I think we're walking too many guys," said Guillen after watching the Rays walk nine times. "We're not pounding the strike zone the way we should. We're not hitting the way we think we can hit. Not pitching, not hitting equals, you lose. We lost the game pretty bad. It's as easy as that.
"Last week we had the best ballclub in baseball. All of a sudden, we've got the worst club in baseball."
The Rays had gone 133 home games without scoring 10 runs or more, the longest such streak in the Major Leagues since the Astros went 268 home games from 1980-84.
The win "was very good for us as a team," Zobrist said. "Everybody had good quality at-bats up and down the lineup and Matt Moore did a great job once we got a few early in the game of just shutting them down every inning there. He was just phenomenal tonight."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.