video thumbnail

Matt Moore talks about his upcoming start vs. Yankees

Freddy Garcia struggled mightily the last time he was part of the Yankees' starting rotation.

After a productive two-month stint in the bullpen, the veteran right-hander will have the chance to redeem himself, when he returns to a starting role on Monday night at Tropicana Field. Lefty Matt Moore will take the mound for the Rays in the first of a three-game series between American League East foes.

The Yankees lead the division by six games, but trail their season series against the Rays 5-4, with Tampa Bay sweeping the teams' only three meetings at the Trop to open the season. New York comes in having won seven of nine, while Tampa Bay has dropped nine of 12.

The Yankees have lost CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to injury, forcing Garcia (2-2, 6.39 ERA) to make his first start since April 28. His ERA was 12.51 in four outings before he switched to the bullpen, where he posted a 1.56 mark in 10 games.

"I was more surprised by how the season started for him than how he's been pitching lately," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday. "It's tough to take a veteran and get him to go to the bullpen, but he did it. He's waited for his opportunity, and now it's come back around. I look forward to him taking advantage of it. I know what he's capable of doing. We've seen it before, and I hope we see it again."

Garcia originally was supposed to start Friday in place of Sabathia, but then had to throw 32 pitches on Wednesday after Pettitte fractured his ankle. He threw 30 more in the batting cage afterward to stretch out his arm for Monday.

"I've been playing this game for a long time, and I have to be ready for any situation," Garcia said afterward. "My arm feels good. We'll see what happens Monday, but hopefully I pitch good with the way I've been pitching lately. I feel great."

Moore (4-5, 4.19) gave up four runs on 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings to get a no-decision against Kansas City on Wednesday, but he still posted a 3-0 record and a 3.16 ERA in June. The 23-year-old has struck out 90 in 88 innings this season, and said his fastball is the key to his repertoire.

"It's kind of the indicator for what my pitches are doing, and usually what kind of success I have that night," Moore said. "It's an important thing every time out, so we'll see what we can do about it."

Yankees: Plenty of rest
Eric Chavez got the start at third base in place of Alex Rodriguez on Sunday, the third time in the past seven games manager Joe Girardi has made that move with his lineup.

Rodriguez hit six home runs and posted a .790 OPS in June, but Girardi is exercising caution with the 36-year-old's workload at this point in the season.

Chavez, who hit five homers while battling myriad injuries from 2008 to 2011, smacked his sixth of 2012 on Sunday.

• The season-opening series in Tampa Bay was the first of five three-game losing streaks the Yankees have experienced, but none has gone on longer than that.

Rays: A special memory
Moore's first Major League start came against the Yankees in the Bronx last Sept. 22, in a 15-8 Rays victory. He had made two relief appearances in the big leagues before that game.

"It was pretty crazy. My first start just being against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium was very special," Moore said. "To have some run support like that ... you couldn't ask for a better first start, at least from the pitcher standpoint. It was a lot of fun."

Moore threw five shutout innings, just long enough to secure his first MLB win, held New York to four hits and one walk and struck out 11. That was a club record for a pitcher's first big league start. Monday will be Moore's second outing against New York.

• The Rays are 15-8 when Evan Longoria is in the lineup at third base, but with the three-time All-Star on the disabled list, the club has started six other players at the position. On Sunday against the Tigers, veteran Brooks Conrad was at the hot corner for the fifth straight game, and sixth out of the last seven.

Worth noting
• Rays first baseman Carlos Pena is 4-for-39 (.103) in his career against Garcia, with no extra-base hits, three walks and 11 strikeouts.

• The Rays are riding their longest-ever home winning streak against the Yankees. They have taken seven straight, going back to July 21, 2011.

MLB.com Comments