Garzas Shutout dooms Rangers
Some nights you just turn on the television and want to see an offensive explosion on the tube. Going into this Texas series, the Rays are going to encounter the team that leads the majors in runs scored per game. This squad is even more potent tha the Chicago Cubs, who have won an easy dozen more games than the Rangers.
But the firepower on this roster is well documented. The stadium is a true hitters’ ballpark, and the incoming teams have to deal with the heat and humidity that only the Florida Marlins could love. Arlington Texas can be a boiler room during the months of August and September, the temperatures can read 90-ish, but feel more like wet sauna.
The Rays come in here cool, calm and relaxed, and a few more wins will make this feel more like the Artic than the Sahara. Winning breeds success, and right now, the Rays are a success story for the ages. Coming in an impressive 6-2 during this roadtrip can put an exclamation point on the roadtrip. The Rays have to go above .500 in their road series to truly envision a playoff berth for the first time in franchise history. If last night’s performance is only a glimpse into the future, the the future is so bright………you have to wear shades.
When the Rays looked into their crystal ball before trading for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, did they see this kind of success this early for the pair. Did they see that Garza would come back to the scene of a major emotional and mental meltdown and redeem himself three-fold on the diamond. Could they have envisioned that Garza is considered by many in baseball right now to have the best stuff ( pitches) on the team’s roster. Do you think they thought Matt could mature and accept so soon to be a force on the mound every time he steps to the rubber?
Matt Garz threw his thrid complete game last night for the Rays. In the 7-0 shutout, Garza’s sinker ball was amazing last night, and was a true key to Gara winning his 10th win of the season. His sinker was hitting the spots last night with a great downward break at the last moment. Considering he throws it consistanly above 90 MPH, is true testement to his improvement on the mound.
Garza had Ranger batters’ swinging and missing at his pitches last night. Going into the 6th inning, only Josh Hamilton had reached base on a walk for the Rangers. Garza struck out 9 last night and looked totally in control on the mound.
Garza’s last start in Texas was a million miles away as you saw him pause before pitching each inning and look into his hat for inspiration and mental notes to get him focused in ths game. The only time Matt truly showed emotion in this contest was in the top of the 9th when he went over to Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Pitching Coach Jim Hickey and asked to finish out the game.
It was truly a great night to be a Rays fan.
The Rays struck out 12 times last night against the Rangers. In the last 4 games, the team has now struck out 39 times at the plate. This puts the Rays at 890 strike outs for the season. This is pale in comparison with the major’s leading strikeout squad, the Florida Marlins, who have struck out 1,056 times this year. But the Rays are within the range of the AL leading Oakland A’s who have 930 strikeouts.
It brings about a glaring statistic that could play out more down the road for the Rays. There is a difference in being aggressive at the plate, and being a bit foolish and letting a player strike out looking at a pitch than swinging. The Rays have had more strikeouts looking lately than in a long time.
This has to be nipped in the bud a bit to be able to compete come the September crunch time when baserunners will come at a premium for the team. In the coming weeks, teams will be bringing up the young fireballers out of the minors to intice us to swing at air. We need to exercise a bit more plate discipline and either swing with authority or take the pitches.
Willy Aybar started the barrage in the 4th inning by slamming his 7th homer of the season to rightfield and give the Rays an early 1-0 lead. The homer was a impressive shot that curled into the Rangers pinic area above rightfield and maybe put the Rangers’ Marlon Byrd on the bench with an injury. Byrd went up for the ball and got his wrist or upper hand stuck in the railing area and came down without his glove.
At this point in the contest, the Rays had Rangers’ starter Kevin Millwood at 60 pitches and he was slated for an early exit to the game.
But the Rays put the game and Millwood on the bench in the 5th inning. Carlos Pena hit a 3-2 pitch into the right field stands for his 24th homer of the season. Pena went 1-3, with 3 runs scored, and 2 walks in the game. Pena now has 9 homers in the last 20 games, and one on each of the last 3 contests for the Rays.
But that was only the start of the barrage for the Rays. Cliff Floyd, who was 2-5 on the night, hit his second double of the game to setup the next heroics for the Rays. After a Aybar srikeout, Eric Hinske came to the plate.
Hinske took a Millwood pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark and above a leaping Josh Hamilton to spot the Rays to a 4-0 lead over the Rangers. Hinske hit that ball into the grassy batter’s eye area in centerfield for his 18th homer. In his last 5 games, Hinske is batting .438, with 2 homers and 3 RBI’s.
But that was not the end of the big blasts for the Rays.
Rightfielder Gabe Gross also got into the action by hitting the first pitch he saw from Millwood into the Rays Bullpen area for his career-high 10th homer of the year. In the game, the Rays hit 4 homers for the 4th time this season. Gross aslo got a stolen base off Millwood in the 2nd inning.
Jason Bartlett also started at shortstop for the first time since his in jury on August 3, 2008. Bartlett had been a DH a few times in the last week before finally taking thenfiled for the Rays tonight. On the night, Bartlett went 2-4 at the plate and was the pivot man in the Rays’ only double play of the night.
Now for the upsetting news. You would have thought he got the message a week ago when Maddon benched him for slowly running to first base on a play, but B J Upton is again in the Rays doghouse. Maddon pulled Upton after he took 5.5 seconds to lollygag to first on a double play attempt.
Upton said after the game he thought the Rays had two outs at the time, but also commented that he now knows he has to hustle all of the time and not just take breathers on the basepaths. Upton is a great young talent, and Maddon is truly not flexible on this action. He expects everyone to run hard and give maximum effort on every play.
That is a truly commendable trait, and one that Upton probably will have time to reflex on since he will be sitting out the Sat night game against the Rangers’ for his actions. Upton must understand that everyone on this squad is responsible for either its losses’ or successes this season. The Rays have a unique opportunity to change history and nothing short of 100 percent will do right now.
Beyond that, Upton will probably be wise to not get into this doghouse again this season. Maddon is quick to show that Cliff Floyd, who has two aching knees, gutted out two doubles last night, and score 4 runs in the Thursday afternoon game.
His knees were probably braking loud and clear before Friday night’s game. But as a veteran oin this club, Floyd also knows it is all about example and execution right now. And he has a World Series ring to prove it.
B J has to consider himself really lucky to get such multiple chances from Maddon. In the not to distant past, Delmon Young wrote his ticket out of Tampa Bay on just such a play. And he only got the one chance to slack off before being shipped out of here.