- Associated Press - Friday, September 30, 2011

ARLINGTON, Texas — Matt Moore was the ultimate wild card.

Making only his second major league start, Moore looked like an ace in pitching seven innings of two-hit ball Friday as the improbable Tampa Bay Rays opened the real playoffs with a 9-0 victory over the defending AL champion Texas Rangers.

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

The Rays played for the first time since their dramatic rally on the final day of the regular season. Since Tampa Bay needed every out simply to overcome Boston’s nine-game lead in the last 3½ weeks to win the wild card, manager Joe Maddon had to focus on getting this far over trying to set up his pitching rotation.

When Maddon had to pick a starter for Game 1 of the AL division series rematch, he had no qualms of going with the lefty 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 phenom. Facing the AL’s top-hitting team, Moore struck out six and walked two.

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

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



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