Andrew Moore returned to the mound in Cheney for what may be his final Triple-A appearance tonight. After just 8 games, it looks like the 23-year-old will be heading back to Seattle to rejoin the rotation, probably at the start of the next homestand. Moore was stellar in his MLB debut, giving up three runs over seven innings while throwing 69% of his pitches for strikes (which sources inform me is very nice). It was especially impressive considering how quickly Moore has moved through the minor leagues. Tonight he came just shy of an “Andrew Moore quality start,” going five innings and giving up just one run while striking out four and walking none. His fastball sat a tick up from where it has before, sitting 91-93 with a high of 94. He threw it almost exclusively in the first inning, only leaning on the changeup once to put away the left-handed batter Victor Cruzado on a foul popup.
Working on a pitch count, Moore threw 54 of his 76 pitches for strikes. But his pitch count took a hit early in the game when lefty Dominic Smith worked a nine-pitch at-bat against him before lining out into the shift. Moore had to rummage in his bag of tricks early against Smith, alternating between his fastball and changeup, and mixed in his curve a few times as well during the inning.
He ran into trouble again in the fourth inning when the 51s strung together three straight hits. Moore got behind top Mets prospect Amed Rosario before allowing a base hit to him, then the lefty Smith, and then Kevin Plawecki gapped a first-pitch double to score the 51s first run of the day. In evaluating his own performance, he said of the Rosario at-bat: “I got a little too much plate there. I think I was getting too cognizant of getting ahead as opposed to making effective pitches, so next time maybe I would go changeup there, 3-1, trusting I could get it in the zone and not let him time up the fastball.” Moore did what he normally does, though, and buckled down to induce pop-ups from the next two batters. He left the game with a 2-1 lead, and the Rainiers scored in the bottom of the fifth to make it 3-1.
They would go on to add another handful of runs, at one time leading 7-3. Gordon Beckham, Daniel Vogelbach, Boog Powell, and Tyler Smith all had multihit games, and Steven Baron checked in with three hits. Boog Powell also had a sensational catch:
Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn’t hang on. Jonathan Aro, Mark Lowe, and Jean Machi all gave up runs, and Moore was saddled with a no decision, which feels like an appropriate way to welcome him back to the Seattle Mariners. While it wasn’t a favorable outcome for the Rainiers, it was another step forward for Seattle’s young righty. After the game, when asked about Moore’s performance, Pat Listach said, “After you go to the bigs and you come back here, you feel like you don’t belong. You go out here and you dominate, and that’s what he did.”