Rays beat Rangers in playoffs opener

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Moore delivers to the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning of Game 1 in baseball's American League division series playoffs, Sept. 30, 2011, in Arlington, Texas.
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

ARLINGTON, Texas - Making only his second major league start, Tampa Bay's Matt Moore pitched seven scoreless innings to lead the Rays to a 9-0 win over the Texas Rangers in Friday's opener of their American League Division Series.

Kelly Shoppach homered twice and drove in five runs, Johnny Damon also homered and Tampa Bay dominated the whole way thanks mostly to their 22-year-old rookie pitcher.

In Friday's other AL playoff series opener, the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers were tied 1-1 when the game was suspended by rain.

According to a rule adopted by Major League Baseball two years ago, the game is not postponed. Instead, it will pick up Saturday at the point of suspension — weather permitting — with the Yankees coming to bat in the second inning.

The delay did mean both teams will likely be without their ace pitchers, who started Friday. Detroit's Justin Verlander and New York's C.C. Sabathia were unlikely to resume Saturday and may not pitch again in the best-of-five series.

The Rays played for the first time since their dramatic rally on the final day of the regular season, coming back from a seven-run deficit to beat the New York Yankees in extra innings, and thereby edge Boston for the AL wilcard.

Manager Joe Maddon had no qualms about starting the series with Moore, who made his first start last week at Yankee Stadium and struck out 11 in five scoreless innings.

And just that quickly, Moore has gone from top pitching prospect to postseason star. Facing the AL's top-hitting team, Moore struck out six.

Rookie Brandon Gomes and Wade Davis both pitched a hitless inning in relief to complete the first shutout in Rays postseason history.

Moore, who had thrown only 9 1-3 innings in the majors before this start, took a deep breath before his first pitch. He was the first pitcher to ever start a postseason opener with only one previous career start. He was smiling by the late innings and greeted by hugs in the Rays dugout after he had thrown his last pitch.

Having the youngster on the mound led to another important decision for Maddon, who opted to go with the light-hitting Shoppach behind the plate.

The catcher from nearby Fort Worth homered twice off Rangers ace C.J. Wilson and matched a Rays postseason record with five RBIs.

After Wilson hit Ben Zobrist with a pitch in the second, Damon followed with a two-run homer that put the Rays ahead to stay. What looked like a high popup just kept carrying and cleared the wall in right field.

Shoppach, a .176 hitter in the regular season, followed with a single and later scored on a hit by Matt Joyce for a 3-0 lead. An inning later, Shoppach hit a 410-foot homer to center.

Tampa led 8-0 after Damon reached base on a two-out error in the fifth and Shoppach followed with a 415-foot homer to left.

Damon drove in another run with an infield single in the ninth.

Wilson had never lost to the Rays until Friday, when he gave up eight runs (six earned) over five innings. His worst outing of the season came at the most inopportune time.

Texas and Tampa Bay have picked up where they left off last postseason, when the visiting team won every game in their five-game series. That's the only time that has ever happened in the majors.

The Rangers won that series and then went on to beat the Yankees in the AL championship before losing to San Francisco in the World Series. Texas is only 3-9 in postseason games at Rangers Ballpark, where they had never won a playoff game until last year.

Game 2 is Saturday. James Shields will start for the Rays against Derek Holland.

Game 2 of the Yankees-Tigers series was pushed back to Sunday.