(Sports Network) - The Baltimore Orioles will try to protect their spot atop
the AL East tonight as they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the second portion of a
three-game series at Camden Yards.
Baltimore took a 4-3 win behind a clutch home run from unlikely hero Nick
Johnson in the series opener on Friday to earn a one-game lead over their
divisional rival in the standings.
Tampa Bay will turn the ball over to Matt Moore (1-2) tonight in an attempt to
create another tie with the Orioles. The Rays young lefty starter has been
considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, but he has
not been overwhelming so far in his first full-time season in the majors.
Moore gave up eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings to Oakland in his last start
on Sunday. However, he appeared in control versus Seattle on May 1 with a
strong five-inning outing in which he struck out seven, gave up only one
earned run and earned his second career win.
"He has a great fastball, he just doesn't know where it's going all the time
quite yet. I've seen that before with our other young pitchers, so he's going
to be fine," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon when discussing Moore.
The Rays' manager hopes his offense can be more productive to give his
youngster run support tonight. Tampa Bay was hitless after five innings and
left eight men on base in yesterday's loss. Carlos Pena's slump continued as
he went 0-for-4.
Moore will have to focus on his control tonight as he goes up against
Baltimore's powerful lineup.
The Orioles' Nick Markakis has homered in three of his last four games and
Adam Jones also went deep on Friday. Baltimore seems to be getting power in
its lineup from everywhere as Johnson's go-ahead home run was his first in
over two years.
"You know that he's grinding. You trust guys with Nick's make-up and the
things that he's been through to get to this point. [He] had a lot of good at-
bats tonight," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Baltimore's inexperienced starter Dana Eveland did enough in his six innings
of action to keep the game close before the bullpen submitted an excellent
performance. Darren O'Day picked up the decision and Pedro Strop set up Jim
Johnson for his 10th save as the trio held Tampa Bay hitless for the final
Lefty Brian Matusz takes the mound for the home team today and will try to
bounce back from Monday's disastrous outing in which he gave up 10 hits and
seven runs to the mighty Texas Rangers.
Matusz finished 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA in 2011 but has shown flashes in spots
during his career. The lefty gave up only one run to the Yankees in 6 1/3
innings in his start prior to Monday's hiccup versus Texas.
Matusz is 3-2 with a 5.70 ERA in six career starts versus Tampa Bay and will
be looking to get redemption after lasting only 1 1/3 innings the last time he
took the mound against the Rays.
Baltimore is looking to win its third of four games tonight.
The Orioles split 18 meetings with Tampa Bay last season.
The Sports Network