Seemingly every scout who covered the teams who train on Florida's Gulf Coast predicted this spring that Rays right-hander Matt Garza was ready for a breakout season. They felt Garza, who has always possessed good stuff, was showing more determination and better poise on the mound.
Garza has certainly been proving the scouts right in the early days of the 2010 season. He turned in a sparkling effort Monday night in pitching the Rays to a 5-1 victory over the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Garza allowed one run and six hits in eight innings with three walks and five strikeouts while throwing 64 of 103 pitches for strikes. Manager Joe Maddon said he would have allowed Garza to finish if not for wanting to get closer Rafael Soriano an inning of work. Monday night's outing, coupled with his stifling of the Orioles last week at Tropicana Field, makes Garza 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and .179 opponents batting average allowed through two starts.
"Matt has been a good pitcher but we've seen a different Matt Garza this year," Maddon said. "It has been clear since Day One that he wants to take his game to a new level. He wants to be that guy you can count on every five days to not give just a good effort but a great effort. He has pushed that "want to" button and it's going to be interesting to watch him this season."
Garza, rather surprisingly, was bothered by his performance. He could not get past the three walks.
"I know the linescore looks good and everyone will say I pitched a good game but walking three guys is ridiculous," Garza said. "It really bothers me to walk that many guys. I can't just put guys on base. I'd rather give up a solo home run than just giving the guy the base. It's not acceptable."
While Garza left Camden Yards late Monday evening still seeking perfection, Maddon was pleased with some signs of pitching maturity from the 26-year-old. Garcia gave up a leadoff home run to Felix Pie in the bottom of the first inning then walked Pie and Nick Markakis in the third before inducing Miguel Tejada to ground into an inning-ending force out. He seemed unfazed in both situations
"In the past, giving up the home run and walking the two guys in the one inning would have really bothered Matt and those innings could have turned ugly," Maddon said. "Tonight, he shrugged both of those things off and got people out. You're watching a pitcher grow up before your very eyes when you see that kind of stuff."