The no-hitter has replaced the home run as the most appealing sight in baseball. That’s what happens when you have 6 in less than 100 games (and yes I’m still counting Armando Galarraga’s thank you very much).
The latest comes from Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays who only allowed one walk over his 120 pitch gem in a 5-0 win against the Detroit Tigers. Garza has been considered to have ace potential since his arrival from Minnesota via trade, and his performance Monday shows why Tampa ponied up a few prospects to land him in the first place and make him a front of the rotation pitcher.
(It also makes you wonder what Minnesota’s rotation would be like with him there and how the current struggles it has with Nick Blackburn being moved to the bullpen would be a moot point. Sorry to pour salt in those wounds Twins fans.)
The great thing about Garza’s performance is that it was an awesome performance. Unlike Edwin Jackson and Ubaldo Jimenez’s walk fests of no-no’s Garza was in control for most of the night walking only one but getting a double play ball immediately after. He faced the minimum of 27 batters striking out six and over powering Tigers hitters with that huge fast ball of his. 101 of his 120 pitchers were fastballs sometimes hitting 96 or 97 on the radar gun. His performance last night was the high point in a year that has been filled with ups and downs.
Sometimes over the course of his tenure in Tampa, Garza’s focus and emotional restraint has been questioned. He is a fiery right-hander who listens to 2pac before each start and it shows in his emotions throughout the course of some of his starts. In June Garza had a complete meltdown against the Florida Marlins when he gave up 7 earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, against the Red Sox earlier this month he allowed 4 earned runs and threw 84 pitches in 3 innings which got him the quick hook. In his last start against Baltimore he allowed 7 earned runs and ten hits to one of the worst offensive teams in baseball.
Then this, this is the Matt Garza that baseball writers fell in love with during the 2008 ALCS where he made his presence known by winning the series MVP. This is the guy that came out this year with a 3-0, .75 ERA start to his season. This is the guy that was going to be the leader of a rotation with young flame throwers like David Price and Jeff Niemann. Garza himself knows what kind of year it’s been for him, “This year I’ve just been so rocky, just trying to find myself. Something good had to happen soon,” the right-hander said. “I’m trying to look for just a hint of consistency, and this should get the ball rolling in the right direction. I didn’t feel great. My mechanics felt off, but I was able to locate my fastball.”
Manager Joe Maddon agrees, “This is the kind of game that could catapult somebody like him who has this kind of ability. He has struggled at different moments this year. Hopefully this is one of those things that can really mentally get you over the hump.”
The Rays need it too. They’re in a pennant chase with the Yankees and have a huge series coming up this weekend against them. They would love nothing more than to have this carry over into the series and take over sole possession of the AL East.
What they would also love are more gems like these in their favor. The Rays before Monday had been no-hit 3 times in fourteen months. It’s about time one of these things went in their favor.
While we all marvel at Garza’s achievement, and Yankees hope that Saturday’s showdown against him is a little better than what the Tigers endured, his oldest son Matthew isn’t impressed. He told his dad after his historic performance, “You’re still not an all-star.” See, even in the year of the pitcher where a guy wins eleven games and throws a no-no you still can’t impress everyone. Hopefully this outing will change his dad’s fortunes and maybe this time next his son will be fully satisfied.