Baseball hasn't seen a left-hander as young as 23-year-old Matt Moore start a season this well since one of the greatest New York Yankees sluggers of all-time was still putting fear into the opposition from the pitcher's mound 96 years ago.
The current Yankees are privy to just how good Moore has been, and they won't have Curtis Granderson to try and help slow him down.Moore takes the mound as the host Tampa Bay Rays look to avoid a fourth loss in five games Saturday against first-place New York.Though he would later be known for his 714 career home runs, a 22-year-old Boston hurler named Babe Ruth began the 1917 season winning his first nine decisions.No other lefty would win his first eight at such a young age until Moore (8-0, 2.29 ERA), who has dazzled at times in his second season as a full-time starter for the Rays (24-23).Moore's ERA rose more than a point while posting a 5.06 mark over his previous three starts, but he allowed just one run in seven innings of a 3-1 win at Baltimore on Sunday.He has won nine straight decisions dating back to last season to break the franchise record set in 2012 by Cy Young Award winner David Price."Historically speaking, it's been wonderful," manager Joe Maddon said.Opponents are hitting just .175 off Moore, the third-best mark in the majors."It's good for our team. That's the biggest thing we can take away from my record," Moore said. "On my days to pitch, we're winning all the games. That's the most important part."Moore gave up one run and two hits -- including a solo homer to Robinson Cano -- in a season-high eight innings of a 5-1 win over the Yankees on April 22, striking out nine.New York (29-18) hopes to have a better performance this time after ending a two-game slide with a 9-4 victory in Friday's series opener. They lost Granderson, though, to a broken knuckle on his left pinkie after he was hit by a pitch in the fifth, and manager Joe Girardi indicated the outfielder could miss a minimum of four weeks.Granderson also missed the first 38 games with a broken right forearm suffered when he was hit with a pitch in his first spring training at-bat."It's sad," Cano said. "He's one of those guys you're going to miss. Hopefully he gets back soon."Brett Gardner hit a two-run homer in the fourth while Lyle Overbay and Jayson Nix also drove in a pair of runs Friday.Though Ivan Nova was activated from the disabled list Friday, Girardi decided to send him to the bullpen and give Vidal Nuno another start Saturday.Nuno (1-1, 1.13) will be making his fourth career appearance and second start after allowing a leadoff home run in the bottom of the 10th in a 3-2 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday.His only start came May 13, when he gave up three hits and three walks in five innings of a 7-0 win over Cleveland.It's unclear how many more starts the left-hander will receive with Nova back. Nova, who had an inflamed right triceps, has been put into a long-reliever role to get back on track before he returns to the rotation.The Yankees had lost 13 of the previous 16 meetings in St. Petersburg prior to Friday, when the Rays' Evan Longoria went 0 for 4 to end his career-best 16-game hitting streak.