Take That! Garza Distractors!

 

When you think of Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Garza, usually the words patience, consistency and cool under pressure do not immediately come to your mind. Garza has always had the reputation on the Rays of being the lone wolf, the agitated always combustible pitcher who take everything a bit too personal, and craves perfection. Well, after tonight, we just might see a different side of Garza, because once you have had the ultimate confidence booster….A No-Hitter, the rest of the season seems to be on a rail sometimes.

And the beginning of the evening saw Garza with his I-Pod at his side bopping his head to his pre-game musical mix almost invisible within the confines of Tropicana Field. Even as Rays reliever Andy Sonnanstine was adding a few darker goatee touches to the image of the Matt Garza bobblehead on the Rightfield wall, Garza seemed immersed in his own hip-hop World tonight. And even as he began throwing in the Rays Bullpen before the game, he did not produce his usual “pop” when catcher Kelly Shoppach caught him tonight.

 

His ball seemed to flow off his hand tonight. His breaking ball was snapping with a nice downward spiral, and his fastball seemed to have a little more movement than usual. It was almost as if Garza and the ball knew something we all did not know yet. But as the Rays game began tonight against the Detroit Tigers, Garza seemed to be in a different set of parameters.

But early on, it almost seems as if both Garza and Detroit’s starter Max Scherzer were occupying that same unique space of rare air and traded zeros back and forth as both starting pitchers saw hitters being sent down 1-2-3 until Garza made the first blip on the radar by walking Brennan Boesch on 7 pitches in the top of the second inning. This removed the “perfect” label from Garza’s outing. Boesch was quickly erased from the basepaths by a 5-4-3 Double Play to end the scoring threat by the Tigers. 

After his walk to Boesch, Garza sent down the next 22 Tiger hitters in a row to secure the first No-Hitter in Rays history. Now only two National League teams, the New York Mets and the San Deigo Padres are the lone members of the non No-Hitters Club. What was really impressive is the fact that before tonight’s game Garza had gotten close before on June 26,2008 when he lost both his shutout and a No-Hitter by giving up a Home Run to Hanley Ramirez in the bottom of the seventh inning.

 

Before tonight’s No-Hitter, the farthest a Rays pitcher had gone without surrendering a hit was actually shared by two players. Rays leftie Tony Saunders went 7.2 innings on 4/22/1999 against the Baltimore Orioles, and former Rays First Round Draft pick Dewon Brazelton went 7.3 innings against the Florida Marlins on 6/23/2004 before surrendering their first hits of the night. But as the innings seemed to progress, Garza seemed to gain more composure and confidence as the night commenced.  On the night, Garza had only one 3 ball, 2 strike count( Gerald Laird/ 3rd Inning) before getting into a bit of a jam to begin the seventh inning.

Both Austin Jackson and Will Rhymes fought back to identical 3 ball, 2 strike counts before going down and preserving the night for Garza in the top of the seventh inning. Garza got Jackson to fly out to B J Upton, and Rhymes hit a grounder to second baseman Reid Brignac that was easily converted for the second out. Garza got Ryan Rayburn to strikeout on four pitches to end the inning.  In the top of the eighth inning, it took Garza 16 pitches to strike out the side. But mixed into that bunch was a possible problem as Garza went down 3 ball, 2 strikes to Boesch, but he ended up just watching Garza’s strikeout pitch hit Shoppach’s mitt.

 

Then came the top of the ninth inning with goose eggs all over the Detroit side of the scoreboard. Garza spent a little extra time composing himself behind the mound for the ninth inning visiting the rosin bag, looking into his cap for the fortitude to get this game finished on his terms. Garza quickly got a first strike on Tiger hitter Don Kelly before he fell behind  with three straight pitches just above or outside the plate. On the next pitch, Kelly hit a soft grounder to Brignac, who easily converted for the first out.  Laird then came up and was whiffed on four pitches by Garza to set up the night most intense moment.

In the balance was the chance for Rays immortality as Tigers Pinch Hitter Ramon Santiago came on to hit in place of shortstop David Worth. The stage was set for Garza, and all he had to do was deliver and he would be the proud owner of a No-Hitter of his own. Santiago went to a 1 ball, 1 strike count before hitting the next Garza offering to Rightfield. The ball seemed to slowly come to Ben Zobrist’s glove, but the moment it hit leather, Zobrist erupted by jumping straight up in the air and sprinting towards the increasing mob of Rays players at the mound.

 

Even as the excitement and emotions were swirling all around Garza, he still seemed as cool as a cucumber and a bit oblivious to what had just happened to him. Even in the post game interviews, Garza seemed unusually relaxed and calm, a bit of cool “Zen” to him. But maybe it was the realization that he has so much to offer this Rays team. That maybe by going down into that fifth slot in the Rays rotation he can preserve and protect a few more Rays wins. Or maybe we just saw one of the last steps of pitching evolution tonight with Garza.

Tonight was his night to shine like the moon outside. Big, bold and bright, with clarity and instant confidence. Just a few days ago a local Sports Radio icon began to question Garza and his pitching abilities. He wondered if we might have seen the best of Garza and would see a slow progression downward now. Guess this outing firmly put that question into your face like a shaving cream pie.

A night like tonight can define a players and take him to another level, if he lets it. I got a feeling the sky is the limit right now for Garza, or at least he can go outside right now and howl at that big old bright full moon. The first No-Hitter in Rays history is now firmly in the books by a guy who has always let little things frustrate him, but tonight, the only frustration felt by Garza is if his pitching glove is off to the Baseball Hall of Fame tomorrow.

   

 

29 Comments

Dude! That was awesome to watch! Soak it all in! Congrats Garza and Rays fans!

Mike

http://phanaticaddict.mlblogs.com/

Mike,
If it seemed great on the video or the MLB recaps, it was twice as intense in the stadium.
There are just moment you can feel history surrounding you. And that whole night long there were multiple signs that magic was happening in front of us.
Garza deserves the accolades, but his Rays defense kept that dream alive!
This could be the start of a nice run during this potentially dangerous homestand for the Rays with three hungry Playoff teams (Tigers, Twins & Yankees) coming to town in the next 10 days.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Garza pitched a great game, but the Tigers are just pathetic right now it was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m glad Joyce was the one who broke up Scherzer’s. He was a favorite with the Whitecaps.
–Mike
‘Minoring In Baseball’
http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com

Rays are definitely a great time to cheer for! Such a likeable team with likeable players. You do things the right way

Congratulations to Matt Garza. He was absolutely filthy tonight. First no-no in Rays history!

http://mimi.mlblogs.com

Outstanding Double R!! Bout time the Rays found themselves on the winning side of a no-hitter. I started watching the game as soon as I heard an update.
WooooHooo!
Your comment for Hall of Very Very Good is up for vote. Let the people speak. Pete Rose and ShoelessJoe may have that chance.
mike
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

Mike, it is just beyond comprehension that both Garza and Joyce contributed to such an amazing degree last night. Garza simply just seemed to be on a pattern like a machine last night, with a few hiccups, but providing a lasting moment of clarity for Rays fans.
And Joyce is beginning to live up to the trade hype we all expecyed when he first arrived from Motown. Two Grand Slams in his three HRs….Wow! But the best part was that Joyce did it against his old team.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cliff,

How nice to see one of your guys throw a no-hitter!!! I still haven’t seen one of those momentous games yet and am jealous that you have seen three of them.

I have seen one guy hit 3 homers in a game, a guy hit two grand slams and a guy hit for the cycle, but never a no-hitter. Closest was seeing Storm Davis do it for 7 and 2/3 at Memorial Stadium.

Thanks for sharing!

Ken

Mimi,
Funny that on the night the Rays spittin’ Cobra get a no-hitter, the opposing Manager is accused of spitting on an umpire. In both instances, Sunflower seeds are the culprit.
But it was great night for Rays history with the full moon and the crazies definitely out at Tropicana Field.
My favorite was the sign that expanded with an extra “Z” every time Garza got a “K”on the the night.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Mike,
Rays just seem to find themselves in weird historical places this season. They are now the first teams since 1917 to be in 3- No-Hit situations in one season. Hope we do duplicate my second favorite team, the 1917 White Sox and make ti to the World Series…..but the gamblers and goons can stay home this time.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Ken,
Seen a great number of great things down here in the fun and sun in the last few years. But last night, with a full moon in the background…That was special.
Rays have had a lot of tremendous baseball over thelast few years. One day I might even be able to sit down and actually enjoy it all…Maybe.
They are re-televising the Matt Garza No-Hitter today at noon….Got pizza ordered, sodas in the fridge…and ready for some Spittin’ Cobra Karma.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Hey RR, congrats on your team finally throwing a no-no. I’d noticed that the post before this you said that you thought that Garza might be the one to do it. Strange huh?

http://philliesredpinstripes.mlblogs.com/

Actually, the gamblers and such was in 1919, but I get your meaning. A book is now out saying that the 1918 series might not have been on the up and up, and could in part explain the bad luck of both the Cubs and the Bosox after the series, so you never know.

http://philliesredpinstripes.mlblogs.com/

Phillies,
It was actually a bit of gossip that the 1917 game might have also been a bit crooked, but not on the White Sox that time. I think that people will alwasy thing the fix is in….I know I have a conspiracy theory mind sometimes myself.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Phillies,
Sorry did not see the first posting comment.
I always thought Garza had the stuff to post a No-No, but sometimes he is his own worst enemy with his emotions.
But last night he seemed clicked in, zoned to a point of pinpoint precision, and got some nifty defensiveplays to secure a pitcher’s dream.
Always an adventure being a Rays fan.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Well, in the book on the 1918 series, the author says the fear of the series being fixed goes all the way back to 1903, and it is in part because of the way the owners treated the players, i.e. how much they’d paid them. Not sure if it is true or not, but it does give a reason why those guys risked their careers the way they did.

Since I don’t follow Garza don’t know how well he can check his emotions, but sometimes that does come into play, could I saw too much last year our former ace and now no. two starter, Cole Hamels have a melt down on the mound when things were not going his way. Just plain brutal to watch. As for adventure, watch Brad Lidge in the ninth. I get so tired of seeing his Mitch ‘Wild Thing’ Williams imitations like you wouldn’t believe.

http://philliesredpinstripes.mlblogs.com/

What a great moment… finally, the Rays are on the good end of one.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Wasn’t Garza’s name just being tossed around in trade rumors? It was a great pitching performance by a great Rays pitcher. Even as an opposing fan, it was a game that deserved a tip of the cap by all fans. Also, congrats on the follow-up win tonight.
.
Scott
http://fotr.mlblogs.com

Got to see the Rays on Sunday in Cleveland on Sunday when I visted progressive field. Needless to say I was very impressed with the team. Kind of mad that I missed out on a no-no by one day though. It must be incredible to see that in person.
http://section316.mlblogs.com

Try picturing this scenario: Adam Dunn for Matt Garza. (And this was BEFORE the no-hitter.) Yeah, that’s the story going round up here…that the Nats were seriously talking about this.
I mean, we NEED starting pitching now that Stephie Wonder is day-to-day (and J.D. Martin and Luis Atilano are on the DL). But I think you and I both know Garza ain’t going anywhere NOW…
Maddening, ain’t it?
Gary
http://go-nasty-nats.mlblogs.com
http://twitter.com/gonastynats

Phillies,
Guess we can thankful for the formulation of the MLBPA and their Collective Bargaining Agreement for MLB salaries for even call-ups hitting near half a million dollars if they play an enitre season at the top level.
Cole Hamels, I still remember when he got in a fight at Razzles Bar in Clearwater right next to the original Hooters.
Sometimes a bit if maturity can change a guy, but then sometimes people regress….jusru is out on Garza, but so far it is looking like he might have turned the corner to ace-hood.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

After being no-hit twice in one season it’s gotta feel amazing to finally have one go your way! Congrats to Garza, the team and all the Rays fans! It always gives me the chills when I see a team celebrate after they accomplish something so great! Congrats again!!!
http://dbacksrollercoaster.mlblogs.com

Jeff,
I can not agree more. I have seen the Rays no-hit three times in my life (Derek Lowe, Mark Burhle,Dallas Braden), but now we have one of our own.
Was pretty sweet to sit there during the last two innings on pins and needles wondering if this was “the one”.
Seen some amazing things last night like a Grand Slam breaking up a Detroit no-hitter (at the time).
Alan must not like me too much right now.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Scott,
Acutally, there have been a few Rays pitchers names thrown around. Garza, James Shields and Wade Davis are the MLB level guys.
But I know the Kansas Vity Royals liked Rays farm hand leftie Jake McGee as a possible fit for exchanging David DeJesus. But with DeJesus’s injury, that trade is dead and buried.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Yes, it does, but sometimes it does get a bit much with the salaries some of the players get, especially when they don’t earn it.

Uhm, you sure you aren’t talking about Brett Myers, Renegade? I do not recall ever hearing about ‘Hollywood’ getting into things like that. That was more Myers deal.

Yes, maturity does change a guy, especially when there is a vet who is willing to grab him by the collar and talk some sense into the guy’s thick skull. At least Hamels isn’t doing his melt down when he gets into trouble.

http://philliesredpinstripes.mlblogs.com/

Phillies,
I know the episodes with Myers, and we are not talking about the Akinori Kobiyashi “Hot Dog Eater” pratical joke either. January 29, 2005, Cole Hamels and four other professional players were involved in a local fight with a guy at Razzel’s bar in Clearwater. I am not trying to bring this up, but if you want to know more, either re-read the “Sports Illustrated” biased article, or the Google item online.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Section316,
I do not think the lineup favored a possible no-hitter whiole the Rays were in Cleveland. Heck, they had to fight for what they had by finally taking a series for the first time since 2005….Also shedding a 18-game losing streak inside Progressive/Jacobs Field.
But the past 4-game winning streak is showing there is still a huge amount of fire in the Rays bellies…and that is a great thing.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Gary,
I heard about Stephen’s being pulled from his start, but was not aware of any problems. But that does open a new can of worm’s as to if you try and sign Dunn to an extension, or let him go and hope he finds his way back to Washington in the off season.
As for Garza, I think he solidified his place for now not only for 2010, but maybe beyond with his performance. But you never know when you have an Arbitration hearing in the off season, and could command over $ 5 million in the Tampa Bay payroll expectations.
Rays could sell high on Graza with the popularity right now.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

DBack,
I think collectively, the Rays fans have been hoping for this sign of pitching redemption sometime during this season. Garza was the guy I thought had the stuff, but needed a tweaking of his temperament. But his cool, calm demeanor on Monday night spoke volumes in how he has shown growth this year.
Garza is truly one of the guys who wants to get back into the Playoffs and show that 2008 was not a fluke.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Ah, I see. I was not following the Phils as closely in 2005 as I did before 2000 (after they had ended the 90s as a laughing stock, their usual position) and now, during the time when they were doing the Maxwell Smart missed it by that much getting into the playoff, getting me once again fully interested in the team, so it probably did not register on the old radar screen.

If that was the case, yeah, does show that he has grown up some.

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