Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Garza is brilliant as Rays nip Blue Jays

ST. PETERSBURG — As little hitting the Rays were again doing — or again not doing — the premium Wednesday was on the guys throwing the ball. And one pretty big catch at the end.

The Rays won, beating the battling Blue Jays 1-0. All it took was another home run by Carlos Pena, a stellar start by Matt Garza, more dominant relief work by Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler and a wall-banging game-ending catch by Justin Ruggiano.

"Tonight I was fortunate enough that one was enough," Garza said. "What can I say? This team, we find a way to win. … We don't quit. Everyone is out here for one reason, and that's to try to get this team to October."

The win kept the Rays from their first three-game skid of the second half and maintained their 3½-game American League East lead over the Red Sox, who won again and may have dropped the Yankees from the conversation, now 10½ back with 30 to play.

The disappointment, again, was the Tropicana Field attendance, another embarrassing turnout of 12,678 (800 fewer than Tuesday).

The highlight moment belonged to Ruggiano, who with two out raced back, leaped and crashed into the wall to snag Rod Barajas' drive that would have hit high up for a likely double.

"Off the bat, I thought it was a home run," Ruggiano said. "The split second before I jumped, I had a feeling that I could make this catch."

But the storyline was the pitching.

Garza was dazzling, working into the eighth without allowing a run (his seventh start without an earned run), retiring nine in a row in one stretch, scattering six hits and taking advantage of the low target that now personal catcher Shawn Riggans provides.

"What Garza did today, that was impressive," Pena said. "I thought he was really aggressive, and very confident, and poised. And next thing you know, he throws up eight zeroes.''

He has been ridiculously tough on the Jays, improving to 3-1 and lowering his ERA to 0.30, having allowed one run in 31 innings.

Jays rookie David Purcey was equally impressive in his first outing against the Rays, striking out 11 and allowing only four singles and Pena's homer on the first pitch of the fourth (the Rays' only extra-base hit in the two games). It was Pena's eighth homer in his past 20 games, 13th since the All-Star break and 27th overall.

Manager Joe Maddon called it a "classic-kind-of-a-game" game, and said: "We just have to be able to play with this kind of level of emotional intensity nightly, and we have. … Our guys are truly into it, they understand what's going right now.''

Garza had thrown 110 pitches when Maddon went to the mound in the eighth with two out, one on and red-hot Vernon Wells at the plate. Garza stayed in but walked Wells. No problem, as Balfour blew away lefty-swinging Adam Lind. Wheeler got two quick outs in the ninth, and then Ruggiano had things in hand.

"I stopped breathing for like three seconds,'' Pena said, "and then he came up with that play. It was great.''

Marc Topkin can be reached at

Rays 1

Jays 0

Garza is brilliant as Rays nip Blue Jays 08/27/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2008 4:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What’s wrong with Blake Snell’s fastball?


    Blake Snell's MLB tenure to this point has been inconsistent, to say the least. As a rookie in 2016, he posted a 3.54 ERA, but his Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell will start tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His performance will depend on his four-seam fastball.

  2. Jameis Winston could set Bucs' career TD record in 2017


    How often can a player reset an NFL franchise's career passing record before his 24th birthday? Jameis Winston has a shot to do that with the Bucs this fall.

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston, shown last season, could set Tampa Bay's career record for touchdown passes in just his third NFL season.
  3. Dan Girardi the latest defenseman on Lightning radar


    Veteran Dan Girardi is the latest pending free agent defenseman to draw interest from the Lightning, the Times has confirmed.

    Dan Girardi, 33, spent the last 11 seasons with the Rangers, who bought him out this summer.
  4. College World Series puts Florida Gators in elite company


    With Tuesday night's College World Series win, the Florida Gators put themselves in rare company.

    Florida celebrates after defeating LSU in Game 2 of the College World Series finals, Tuesday, in Omaha, Neb.