BOSTON -- Matt Moore called it “probably the best game I’ve ever thrown.”
The Tampa Bay Rays left-hander sliced through the Boston Red Sox lineup Monday night en route to his first career shutout and 14th win of the season, pulling his team to within a half-game of first place in the American League East with a 3-0 victory. Moore allowed just three Boston hitters to reach base, two on singles and one on a walk. Only one got as far as second base during the 109-pitch masterpiece.
After having some success against Moore in their limited encounters over the past couple of years, the Red Sox took note of a refined approach.
“He hit his spots. That’s why he was effective,” right fielder Shane Victorino said. “Tip your cap. I never take credit from a guy who pitches well.”
Taking credit from Moore on Monday would be like walking past the Mona Lisa without offering a glance. He struck out just four batters, all in succession over the second and third innings, but threw 68 percent of his pitches for strikes, living on the edges of the strike zone and inducing loads of weak contact from the highest-scoring offense in baseball.
Moore won his sixth straight start, tying his own club record, and became the first Rays pitcher to throw a shutout in Fenway Park since Steve Trachsel on May 16, 2000.
Moore, who turned 24 last month, was making his 52nd career start. His counterpart, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman, is also 24 but was making just his second career start. While the latter is a tad older, he could only marvel at Moore’s gem and hope to one day be able to duplicate such dominance.
“It was impressive to watch,” Workman said.
Boston manager John Farrell was pleased with the effort by Workman, who allowed two runs in six innings, and that of reliever Jose De La Torre, responsible for 2 2/3 innings on a night when the Red Sox wanted to spare the bullpen. But on a comfortable night at Fenway that saw some clean, crisp baseball, there was only one star.
“Overall a solid pitched game on both sides, but Matt Moore was the story tonight,” Farrell said.