After missing over a year recovering from Tommy John, it just so happened that the state of Florida saw the return of two of their top aces on the same day. Matt Moore and Jose Fernandez for the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins respectively, took the hill with one had a decent outing, and the other struggling just a bit.
The Marlins, a team dealing with the loss of their best player in Giancarlo Stanton, were looking for a bit of a boost, and they got that Thursday afternoon from Fernandez. He had a good return outing going six innings and giving up three runs on seven hits while striking out six and walking none. It wasn’t the easiest return outing against a very potent Giants offense, but he did not leave much room for complaint.
It wasn’t the pitching performance that garnered most of the attention, however. In the bottom of the fifth, Fernandez thought that he had to be the replacement for Stanton and decided to go yard hitting a solo shot to left to help his own cause. Now, Marlins Park isn’t a small ballpark, and he Fernandez blasted one to cut the deficit in half at the time.
The return to the rubber, however, was what Marlins fans were really waiting to see, and Fernandez didn’t disappoint. He was on a bit of a pitch count as he only threw 89 pitches, but as he continues this season, manager Dan Jennings will begin to loosen the reins. Fernandez is one of those pitchers that you go to the ballpark psyched to see. Having him back in the swing of things is good for baseball and especially good for Miami who needs a brand name player to take the spot of Stanton while he is on the DL.
The Marlins are a bit too far out of the playoff picture which actually might help Fernandez ease back into things and get prepared for 2016 where they will start it over again and try to work towards the Postseason.
While Fernandez was striking people out and hitting home runs, a short drive up I-75 from Miami, in St. Petersburg, the Rays welcomed one of their own aces back to the hill in Matt Moore.
Coming into Thursday, the Rays are right of the thick of things in the AL East. Even though they are in fourth place, they are just one game back of the division leading Orioles. With the addition of Moore, their pitching staff receives a big boost from a guy who is very dependable every fifth day.
Thursday, however, was not one of his finest outings as Moore struggled a bit, but kept his team in the ballgame even though they eventually lost in ten innings to the Cleveland Indians. He lasted 4.2 innings, giving up four runs on six hits while striking out four and walking two. He ended the day with just 81 pitches thrown and, like Fernandez, he is just easing back into it a bit.
When Moore gets a couple more starts under his belt, the Rays hope he returns to his form from before the surgery, but after a surgery like Tommy John, nothing is a given and it isn’t the easiest road back. The Rays have gotten some good outings from their other starters led by Jake Odorizzi who is working his way back from the DL and should be back fairly soon. If Tampa can get good outings from Moore and continue their ways that have them in the race for the AL East, you can’t count this team out.
All in all, win or lose, getting these two aces back for these two Florida based teams is a good sign for things moving forward even if it isn’t in 2015. We’ll see if the Rays will resign Moore down the road with their salary situation always tight, but in the present he’s giving Tampa something to root for as they fight for a playoff spot. As for Miami, they are quite a ways out of it, but getting Fernandez back has to at least give them a bit of a boost as they trudge through this down season and as Giancarlo Stanton is on the DL.