BOSTON -- While Matt Moore surrendered a two-run homer to Matt Wieters in his Major League debut Wednesday night in Baltimore, a palpable buzz remained about the prized 22-year-old left-hander -- particularly where Joe Maddon is concerned.
The Rays' manager was quick to smile when Moore's name was mentioned Thursday. He noted that the home run Moore surrendered did not bother him in the least.
"I was actually pretty excited about watching the whole thing," Maddon said. "The very first windup he took just warming up -- I'd never seen him throw before. So I'm watching this guy warm up and I'm saying, 'Wow, that's pretty good.'"
Maddon accentuated his "pretty good" with a chuckle that actually labeled his "pretty good" as an understatement.
"Here he goes out of the stretch the first inning [he pitched] and the next inning he was really getting into his comfort zone," Maddon said. "[He] really does it easily. It's one of those easy arms with high gas and a nice rotation on the breaking ball, really good offspeed stuff."
Moore's first strikeout came against J.J. Hardy, a moment Maddon referenced.
"[Moore] threw a changeup -- I think it was to Hardy that he had no idea he had -- and that was outstanding, too," Maddon said. "This kid is going to be really good. ... I don't know how that's all going to work out in the future and the near future, but I'll say this, he has a chance to be very special."
Moore, who went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA in a combined 27 starts for Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham this season, will be working out of the Rays' bullpen. He worked 1 1/3 innings Wednesday night, so Maddon said Moore would not be available Thursday night against the Red Sox.
"I'll check it out again tomorrow and see if he's available for tomorrow," Maddon said. "This is new territory, like we did with David [Price] a few years ago. So I'll just wait and see how he's feeling."
Price pitched out of the Rays' bullpen upon reaching the Major Leagues late in the 2008 season, so Maddon was asked about the parallel between Price and Moore.
"[Price] wasn't as animated as he is today," Maddon said. "I don't know if all of a sudden next year Matt Moore is going to be having his pet dog in the dugout, that sort of thing.
"When David began, I didn't expect him to be as funny as he is. He's very funny. And when a guy first shows up, they don't necessarily bring their sense of humor with them all the time. David eventually went back and got his sense of humor and brought that with him. So maybe Matt's going to be the same way."
Maddon noted that he did give Price a nudge to speak to Moore about the experience he went through in 2008, which Price has already done.
Fenway holds special memories for Johnson
BOSTON -- Dan Johnson's most memorable moment in the Major Leagues came Sept. 9, 2008, when he hit a game-tying, pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Rays went on to win that game, and Johnson had what many still recognize as the biggest hit in team history.
Johnson, who was called up from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday, has a .293 career batting average with three home runs in 13 games at Fenway Park.
"I feel like I see the ball really well here," Johnson said. "I love Fenway Park, just the history of this stadium."
Will manager Joe Maddon look to Johnson in the late innings to pinch hit if needed?
"Depends on the situation," Maddon said. "We have certain guys we pinch hit for. [I] have to look at how they utilize their bullpen."
With Sam Fuld unavailable for pinch hitting duties due to a strained tendon in his right wrist, Johnson's chances of being used as a pinch hitter are even greater.
"He's ready to go. ... He'll be fine if the right situation comes up, he'll be out there," Maddon said.
Closer Kyle Farnsworth (sore right elbow) remains day to day, but he will not be available Thursday night against the Red Sox.
With two more wins, the Rays will become the fifth team to average 90-plus wins over four seasons (2008-11) after averaging 90-plus losses the four previous seasons. In doing so, the club would join the 1971-78 Phillies, the 1964-71 A's and the 1997-2004 Twins.
The Rays began the season with a 1-8 record, which makes them the ninth team in Major League history -- of the 78 teams to begin the season 1-8 -- to finish the season with a winning record.
While making his Major League debut Wednesday night, Matt Moore became the 10th Rays rookie pitcher this season, which tied the club mark of 10 in 2001. Overall, Tampa Bay has used 15 rookies this season, one shy of the club mark established in '01.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.