BOSTON -- The Rays are pushing Matt Moore's next start back a day as part of some final-week rotation jockeying. Initially slated to start Friday against the White Sox, the left-hander will now pitch Saturday in Chicago, a direct switch with right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.
"Just potentially what may happen later," manager Joe Maddon said of the reasoning. "That's all. It was all about that."
Moore, who's lost four straight decisions, will be on six days' rest, while Hellickson will be on a standard four. If the rotation remains the same, Hellickson (9-10, 3.20 ERA) would be in line to start the final scheduled game of the regular season, Oct. 3 at home against Baltimore. The Saturday start for Moore (10-11, 3.92 ERA) would be his last of the regular season.
In Hellickson's last 16 starts, he's given up more than three runs just once, and in the one exception, he allowed just four runs. There's been some concern that Moore could be tipping pitches, but Maddon said that's not what this move was about.
"He can actually stand on the mound and say, 'Here comes my fastball,' and I still think he can be successful," Maddon said. "I mean, all this stuff is way overblown. I want him to stop thinking about that. If he makes good pitches, regardless if they know it's coming or not, I still think he can be successful."
Moore and Maddon met to talk about the decision, and Maddon reinforced how much confidence he has in Moore going forward. After all, Maddon joked, Moore's job security is a lot better than his own.
"I had a good conversation just so he understood what I was thinking and I want to reinforce with him how much confidence I do have in him now and in the future," Maddon said. "I think he's going to be an excellent Major League pitcher. You look at where he's at right now, we've had guys come through that are really good right now. Talk about David [Price] and [James] Shields that may not have been that good at that particular moment like Matt has been. He has to understand that, too, just some bumps and bruises of growing as a Major League pitcher."
Health-wise, Moore is fine, Maddon said.
Right-hander Chris Archer, who made a pair of starts this month, will stay in the bullpen as a long man for now. Maddon said entering the two-game series with the Red Sox that began Tuesday that his bullpen is in good shape, so Archer serves essentially as insurance.
"A nice guy to have in the 'pen," Maddon said. "We do not have any other plans right now."
Molina day to day with right quad injury
BOSTON -- Rays catcher Jose Molina did some great work in the six innings he was limited to Tuesday night because of a strained right quad.
Molina came up lame on his way down to first base in the sixth inning of a 5-2 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, after his hit helped plate two insurance runs for the Rays. He's day to day and is not expected to go for an MRI, said manager Joe Maddon.
"I really don't know," said Molina, who is hitting .325 in September. "I'll see tomorrow."
Maddon agreed, saying the club would just have to wait and see.
"It's just depends on how severe it is," Maddon said of the impact of a quad injury on a catcher. "Every time you bend over you're going to feel it. You squat you're going to feel it. Quads, it's kind of like the little brother to the hamstring. The hammy's the worst pull you're going to feel, the quad is probably the second worse. It's just there all the time -- but speed is not really a necessary part of his game. ... So if it becomes more functional that he could go behind the plate, take his at-bats, etc., I'm not worried about him stealing any more bases this year."
Molina was scheduled to sit Wednesday anyway.
Molina said he's dealt with a quad injury in his left leg before, but not his right. Besides the hit, Molina helped Tuesday's victory in two big ways. He told ace David Price to go away from the cutter, which led to a brilliant complete game against the Sox. The veteran backstop also threw out a would-be basestealer at third base in the third inning, just ahead of a double.
If Molina can't come back, the Rays would still be pleased with his effort. The goal had been to get him to 100 games played, and Tuesday was his 99th.
"If he could start around 80 games and participate in about at least 100, then you talk even about the wilder dream of having two-thirds of the games, possibly participating in that," Maddon said before his club's series opener with the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "But he's going to be close."
Part of the reason Molina's performance earlier in the year wasn't this strong is he wasn't fully healthy -- a fact he didn't entirely reveal. Molina has already hit a career-high eight home runs, but Maddon's most pleased with the way Molina has served as a receiver.
"We rested him a little bit during the beginning part of the year, a lot of back and forth with him and [Jose] Lobaton and [Chris] Gimenez. I think he's kind of fresh actually right now," Maddon said before the injury. "The weather's been good, he's been playing inside at our place, where the weather's always good. I think he's playing his best ball of the year right now."
Maddon acknowledged the criticism that Molina at times has blocked pitches poorly, but he thinks having the 37-year-old behind the dish has helped some strike calls go the Rays' way. His catchers' ERA this season entering Tuesday was 3.20.
"He matches up well [at the plate] against a lot of the pitchers that we're seeing," Maddon said. "He actually is better against righties as opposed to lefty pitchers. I like his [veteran leadership] behind the plate. I think he's been calling, catching and receiving well. I know there's a couple issues on a blocked ball now and then, but he gets a lot of close pitches called in our favor just because he receives the ball so well and he's throwing better."
Maddon tips hat to Orioles' run of success
BOSTON -- Manager Joe Maddon was asked Tuesday about the credit managers receive for wins in one-run games and whether it can be overblown. Although the question was posed with no direct reference to the Orioles, he took the opportunity to applaud the team with the Majors' best record in one-run games entering the day, 27-9.
"I think there are times that you like what the Orioles are doing right now," Maddon said. "They just got this vibe going on. They believe they're going to get it done sometimes in those moments, and they are, because there's a belief about it."
The Rays are 20-26 in one-run games, something Maddon attributed more to the offense than pitching.
"There's definitely a randomness about [clutch performance]. The randomness comes down to belief or not," Maddon said. "If you believe that you can do something, you will. If you believe you cannot, you will. They believe they can right now, and what's most dangerous about them [is] that they believe that they can -- and that's outstanding. They've earned the right.
"The reason why we're in the position we're in right now is because we've been unable to win a lot of really close games we've pitched so well," Maddon said. "We've just been able to come up with that point somehow. That's been the only real frustrating part of the season, is that."