PHOENIX — Matt Moore got ambushed so early and so thoroughly that both teams might as well have gone home after two innings. Luckily for Reyes Moronta, that’s not how this works.
The rookie took advantage of mop-up duty and got the Diamondbacks before they — like the Giants — replaced all their best players. Moronta struck out Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez in his one inning of work, and after a seeing-eye single, he whiffed Brandon Drury, too. Goldschmidt, a perennial MVP candidate, watched a 96 mph fastball dot the outside corner. Martinez, the hottest right-handed bat in the league, swung through a slider.
In an 11-4 loss to the Diamondbacks, that was the bright spot. It was also potentially a sign of things to come from the young right-hander.
“He’s trying to make a statement, isn’t he?” manager Bruce Bochy said. “This kid is locating with great stuff. He’s got no fear, either. He doesn’t care who is up there — he works it to both sides of the plate.”
The 24-year-old has nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 September innings, with one run allowed. Earlier this week, Bochy and staff members met with him to give him a plan for the offseason. The Giants have made it clear they would like Moronta to tighten up a bit, and if he does work on his conditioning, he’ll probably be fighting for an opening day job next spring when the Giants return here to the Phoenix area.
Moronta represented the good on this night. For Moore, it was all bad. He gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings, with J.D. Martinez chasing him with a second-inning slam. Moore said he was too amped up for that early in the game, and he was missing his spots badly.
Moore had thrown better in recent weeks, and because of that, Bochy hopes to get him back on the mound in a relief role this weekend. He doesn’t want one of next year’s starters to go into the offseason with such a bad taste in his mouth.
“I hadn’t had a chance to talk to him yet, but that’s kind of taking the words out of my mouth,” Moore said. “Obviously the last start of the season, this is not what I want to sit on heading into the break.”