"It may sound strange, but I really do look forward to his first pitch of the game," manager Joe Maddon said Thursday night, after the American League Championship Series MVP took a perfect game into the seventh inning of a 13-0 victory against Boston.
"It said 89 [mph] on the board, but it wasn't," Maddon added. "It was better than that."
Garza, facing the Red Sox at Tropicana Field for the first time since beating them in Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS, allowed his first base runner on Jacoby Ellsbury's infield single leading off the seventh inning.
Ellsbury fouled off an 0-2 pitch and took two balls before hitting a squibber past Garza over the mound. The speedy Boston center fielder, who stole home against the Yankees on Sunday, easily beat shortstop Jason Bartlett's throw to first base.
"When it was first hit, it sounded like it was coming off hard," Garza said. "Then I saw it float by. I dove and watched the ball just miss my glove by inches. I'm like: 'Oh, Barty!' He almost made a great play."
The crowd of 20,341 gave the pitcher a standing ovation, and the right-hander got back on track by getting Dustin Pedroia to ground into a double play. David Ortiz walked with two outs, but was stranded when Jeff Bailey grounded out.
Garza (2-2) threw 75 of his 108 pitches for strikes, walked one and struck out 10.
"He was phenomenal," Maddon said. "If they did not get that hit, I would have let him go 125 or 130 pitches."
The performance didn't surprise Boston, which has a history of struggling against the 25-year-old Garza.
Including a pair of victories against Jon Lester in the ALCS, Garza is 7-1 lifetime against the Red Sox. He also beat them at Fenway Park this season, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings on April 9.
"He was about as good as you could get," Boston manager Terry Francona said.
"We've got to try to find a way to figure him out," Pedroia added.
Things got so bad for the Red Sox, who lost for only the second time in 14 games, that Van Every was brought in from right field to pitch after reliever Javier Lopez gave up back-to-back two-run doubles that hiked Tampa Bay's lead to 12-0 in the eighth.
Longoria had a three-run double off Josh Beckett (2-2) and hit his sixth home run of the season -- a solo shot in the sixth inning -- off Hunter Jones. Michel Hernandez also hit first career home run off Beckett, who allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
It was the second successive rough outing for Beckett, who gave up eight runs, 10 hits and four walks over five innings against the Yankees on April 25.
"It's frustrating. It's a lot of things," Beckett said. "I didn't do that in between my last two starts."
The Red Sox rallied from a 5-0 deficit to beat Cleveland 6-5 in 10 innings Wednesday night, but they had no answers for Garza, who flirted with a no-hitter last June 26 against Florida.
Florida's Hanley Ramirez broke up that bid in Miami with a leadoff home run in the seventh inning, and Garza finished with a complete game one-hitter.
Until Thursday, Maddon felt that was the best he had seen Garza.
"I just thought tonight, every pitch against them -- and they're really hot right now -- was a little bit firmer," Maddon said. "Everything was really in synch for him. It was fun to watch."
- Boston 3B Mike Lowell was 0-for-2 and saw his hitting streak end at 13 games. He and 1B Kevin Youkilis left for defensive replacements in the sixth inning.
- Longoria is 9-for-19 with three home runs and nine RBI against Boston this season.
- Barring a setback, Rays RHP Chad Bradford, who's recovering from right elbow surgery, will throw a batting practice session on Sunday.
- Lopez remained in the game in the eighth, moving to right field when Van Every came in to pitch. Van Every gave up a RBI double to Hernandez, who finished with three RBI.