Posted on: July 27, 2010 12:05 am
The Rays knew about no-hitters.
They knew all about no-hitters. They knew far too much about no-hitters.
Two years in a row, they've had a perfect game thrown against them. Two times this season, they've watched another pitcher celebrate.
Yeah, they know there have been a lot of no-hitters this year. And they also know what made this latest one special.
Here's what makes it special: It was a Rays pitcher who threw it.
And that had never happened before.
That may not sound like such a big deal to fans of the Mets (7,743 games without a no-hitter) or the Padres (6,615 games without a no-hitter or a cycle). But it sure was a big deal to a franchise that had to endure watching all those no-hitters get thrown against them.
If there was a team that was due to be on the right side of a no-no, the Rays were that team.
And if there was a night it should have happened, Monday was that night.
Start with the pitcher who threw it. As Todd Kalas told Matt Garza in his postgame interview on Rays television, Garza is one of those pitchers that people always say "could throw a no-hitter."
His ERA going into Monday was an unimpressive 4.36, which left him 72nd among major-league starters. But Garza's stuff always ranked much, much higher than that.
On his best nights, yes, you'd call it no-hit stuff.
He already had a complete-game one-hitter on his record. He already had a Game 7 where he allowed just two hits in seven innings.
It didn't hurt that he got the Tigers at a time when Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge are all missing from their lineup. They had one guy hitting .204, another guy hitting .206, another guy hitting .182 and another guy who still doesn't have a major-league hit.
It didn't hurt that home-plate umpire Ed Hickox was calling a fairly liberal strike zone.
And it obviously helped that Matt Joyce hit that sixth-inning grand slam, finally giving the Rays a hit of their own, and finally giving Garza the lead.
"Everything just was right tonight," Garza told Kalas after the game. "And it feels great."
And not just for him.
The Rays, remember, had been no-hit three times in less than a year. They've only been shut out four times this season, but somehow two of those four have been no-hitters.
Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game against them last year, and Dallas Braden did it this year. Then came the Jackson no-hitter, the one by the guy they traded away.
Perhaps it had to happen that way, because the Rays traded Jackson to the Tigers for Joyce, the guy who provided the big hit Monday. And if you want to take it a step further, you can point out that Joyce's home run was the first hit off Max Scherzer, a pitcher the Tigers got when they traded Jackson to the Diamondbacks last winter.
It will all go down in Rays history, and it will all be replayed for years to come. The image of Zobrist catching the final out will stick with them, because they'll see it, over and over.
For the rest of us, maybe this no-hitter blends in with all the others this year. Maybe it fades, behind Jackson's 149-pitch effort, behind Braden's perfect game, behind Armando Galarraga's should-have-been no-hitter, the 28-out perfect game.
That's five no-hitters already, and it should have been six. In the modern era, there have never been more than the seven that were thrown in both 1990 and 1991.
In the days that come, there's no doubt there will be more people asking why.
In the years that come, there's no doubt that the Rays and their fans won't be asking. For them, this isn't no-hitter No. 5 (or 6).
It's No. 1, and they won't forget it.
Posted on: May 9, 2010 9:55 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2010 10:06 pm
The Yankees have never had a perfect game thrown against them. The Rays have had it happen twice in 10 months.
The Royals have never had a perfect game thrown for them, or against them. The Angels, Dodgers, Expos and White Sox have been on both sides of perfect games.
Some of the best pitchers in the history of the game have thrown perfect games. And some guys who never were and never will be considered for the Hall of Fame.
It doesn't always make sense, just like the Royals' 1-6 record in Zack Greinke's first seven starts this year doesn't make sense.
And whether it makes sense or not, we're tying Dallas Braden's perfect game, the Yankees and Greinke into this week's edition of 3 to watch:
1. The day after they were the victims in Mark Buehrle's perfect game last July, the Rays faced Roy Halladay in Toronto -- and got a hit in the very first inning. Matt Garza was the Tampa Bay starter that day, and Garza went nine innings to get credit for the Rays' 4-2, 10-inning win. Guess who starts for the Rays Monday night? Yep, it's Garza, who will face Joel Pineiro in Rays at Angels, Monday night (10:05 EDT) at Angels Stadium .
2. The Yankees have had three perfect games, the most of any team. You wouldn't figure that they'd get another one this week, since the Tigers' have the second-best team batting average in the game (behind only the Yankees). But their series this week in Detroit, besides giving the Yanks their first look at Johnny Damon in a Tiger uniform, gives us all a great pitching matchup. It's CC Sabathia against Justin Verlander, in Yankees at Tigers, Thursday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Comerica Park .
3. Greinke, somehow, is 0-4 despite a 2.51 ERA and five quality starts in seven starts. He's the first defending Cy Young Award winner to lose his first four decisions the next year since Bartolo Colon, who was 0-4 with a 5.77 ERA in six starts (wrapped around a trip to the disabled list) in 2006. The Royals bullpen has already cost Greinke two wins with blown saves, and the Royals hitters have hurt him by scoring just one run in his last two starts combined (1-0 and 4-1 losses). They'll try again, in Indians at Royals, Thursday afternoon (2:10 EDT) at Kauffman Stadium . The last defending Cy Young to start 0-5? Frank Viola, who began 0-5 (but then won his next start) for the 1989 Twins.
Posted on: April 16, 2010 10:05 am
The headline in the New York Daily News reads, "Mets may have to call Bobby," as in Valentine. The Baltimore Sun says, "Listless Orioles lose 7th straight" and "Too early to panic?"
The season isn't even two weeks old. On this day a year ago, the Angels were in last place (as they are today). And the Blue Jays were in first place (as they are today).
With those thoughts in mind, here's the weekend edition of 3 to watch, focusing on teams with trouble (and maybe teams in trouble):
1. When Johan Santana lost to Livan Hernandez last Sunday, Jerry Manuel called his Mets "unprepared," setting off the latest frenzy about his future as manager. So imagine what happens if Santana loses to 23-year-old Jaime Garcia, in Mets at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (3:10 EDT) at Busch Stadium. One thing to watch: While Santana is undoubtedly the Mets ace and sole dependable starter, scouts say he isn't the pitcher he once was. The velocity on the fastball just hasn't been there. "If you took away the [uniform] number, he looks like just another pitcher," one scout said after watching Santana last week.
2. The Orioles had signs of trouble in spring training, when Brian Roberts got hurt, closer Mike Gonzalez looked terrible and observers complained that too few of the Oriole players approached the game with a professional attitude. Now both Roberts and Gonzalez are on the disabled list, the O's have one win, and general manager Andy MacPhail is answering questions about manager Dave Trembley's future. One scout who spent last week in Baltimore came away convinced that this team is certain to finish in last place. The one bright spot? Young starter Brian Matusz, and in Orioles at Athletics, Sunday afternoon (4:05 EDT) at the Coliseum , Matusz meets up with Brett Anderson in a matchup of two of the most exciting young lefties in the game. As we told you this spring, A's people believe that Anderson is going to throw a no-hitter some day. The way the O's are going, is this the day?
3. We're cheating here, because the Rays and Red Sox aren't in trouble. But the Yankees have looked good enough out of the gate that it's fair to wonder if Tampa Bay and Boston will eventually be fighting over one playoff spot. The Rays and Red Sox meet for the first four of 18 times this weekend, and we'll pick Rays at Red Sox, Sunday afternoon (1:35 EDT) at Fenway Park , because of the matchup of Jon Lester and Matt Garza. They met twice in the 2008 ALCS, with Garza besting Lester both times. But Garza had an advantage then, with David Price available out of the bullpen to close Game 7. Now Price is in the rotation, Rafael Soriano is Tampa Bay's closer, and one scout who watched Soriano last week said, "Terrible. I'd love to hit against him. He's fastball-slider, and he's guaranteed to make a mistake with the slider."
Posted on: October 20, 2008 5:04 pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Maddon says the Phillies are like an American League team, because they have a deep lineup.
Maddon's Tampa Bay players may not agree.
"I'll tell you what," ALCS MVP Matt Garza said today. "Facing that Phillies lineup, compared to facing the Red Sox lineup, the Tigers lineup or the Yankees lineup, you get a little bit of a break with the Phillies lineup, especially pitching in Philly. There's that nine-hole guy (pitcher) I get to throw against. I'm pretty pumped. I get to be that nine-hole guy, too. I'm excited about that."
While Maddon won't announce his World Series rotation until Tuesday, Garza pitched Game 7 against the Red Sox on Sunday night, so he won't be available until Game 3, on Saturday in Philadelphia. Maddon could go with Scott Kazmir and James Shields in the first two games, on normal rest.
"(Rollins) and Victorino are their sparkplugs, man," Garza said. "Just like Boston had Coco (Crisp) and (Jacoby) Ellsbury, and Chicago had (Orlando) Cabrera and (Alexei) Ramirez. Those guys are what make it go. (Chase) Utley and (Ryan) Howard, you've got to watch out, because those are the ones who drop the big bombs. But if you keep Rollins and Victorino off the bases, you can control the running game, shut down their offense a little bit and let them rely on their big swings."