Sunday, November 19, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

In front of family, a special day for Rays' Ryan Garton

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — In the top of the ninth inning on the Fourth of July, the final Angels batter popped up in foul territory. Rays first baseman Logan Morrison squeezed the ball for only this team's third win in 19 games. The rookie pitcher near the mound, a local, pounded his mitt.

Ryan Garton, closer.

You heard me.

"Hopefully, Ryan Garton has a smile ear to ear and doesn't wipe it off all night," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Garton, who attended Mitchell High in New Port Richey, recorded his first major-league save, before family, on the Fourth of July at Tropicana Field. A relieved Rays bullpen momentarily caught its breath in a 4-2 win.

Garton, who came in with a 5.11 ERA, got two outs. One was Angels superstar Mike Trout, who struck out looking with a man on. The rookie then kept Albert Pujols, 575 homers and counting, inside the fences, limiting him to a sharp single, which would have been a RBI double if the ball hadn't struck third base umpire Mike Estabrook.

Nobody said it needed to be a work of art. And Garton never backed down. No fear. The ball from the final out was in his glove in his locker after the game.

"I was super excited I did my job," Garton said. "As long as we're getting the win. That it happened to be a save, too, is awesome."

For once, the Rays no-lead-is-safe bullpen didn't crumble. It's underwhelming and overexposed. It's been lousy. During the 2-16 stretch leading into Monday, the pen had pitched to a 9.29 ERA. Think about that. Monday, Erasmo Ramirez, Dana Eveland and Garton finished the thing. The Nasty Boys.

Just last Thursday, Garton, called up twice by the Rays this season, was part of the problem. He gave up four hits and that led to four earned runs as the pen disintegrated to blow a 7-2 lead in the ninth in a grisly loss the Tigers. It began the four-game slide that ended Monday. After last Thursday's game, Rays teammate Steve Pearce took a knee and talked with Garton at the rookie's locker.

"I was at a loss of words for what happened," Garton said. "But a lot of guys, including Steve, came and told me you're going to get more outings, put it behind you, you've got the stuff to be at this level. That's why I came to the clubhouse the next day with my head up."

"Up" was the operative word against Trout.

"We talked before I went in, with (Rays pitching coach) Stan (Boroski)," Garton said. "I tried to stay elevated with my fastball and it worked out well. I was happy to get one of the best hitters in the game out."

Still …

"I don't know if he envisioned closing out a game today for us," Cash said.

Who does? With Alex Colome out, no bullpen roles are set in concrete. More like quicksand.

The pen was helped by another strong turn by starter by Matt Moore, who pitched into the seventh and gave up only two runs. Why, Moore is throwing so well that he might be good enough to get traded.

Garton, 26, isn't taking his future for granted. Nor is his family. There was another large, loving contingent for him in Monday's crowd of 14,532. Mom, stepdad, brother, nephews, sister-in-law. It's still a dream sequence for Garton. He's living at his family home in the Lutz area.

"It's crazy," he said. "I wake up in the bed I grew up in. … It's a weird feeling, waking up, driving to the Trop, going across the bay. It's very surreal. You never think of it happening, but it's happening."

He said, "You never know with the way the Rays use their minor leagues. You go back and forth, back and forth. But it's a big thing, being here."

Monday was bigger.

Ryan Garton, closer.

Comments
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Published: 11/18/17
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17
As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

Presuming Alex Cobb declines the Rays’ one-year, $17.4-million qualifying offer by 5 p.m. today, he has pitched his last game for Tampa Bay.Cobb has received preliminary interest from "lots of teams" already, agent Dan Horwits said. The Cubs and Twin...
Published: 11/16/17
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made clear Thursday that identification of a site for a new Rays stadium is merely the first step for area leaders to show they want to keep the team long-term and that there needs to "consistent forward movement" on the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Wednesday that the team is "genuinely excited" about the proposed Ybor City site for a new stadium and more than "cautiously optimistic" the project can be completed. But ...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Rays journal: No big deals at GM meetings, but possible groundwork laid

By MARC TOPKINLAKE BUENA VISTA — Rays officials left the GM meetings without making any big deals — such as trading Alex Colome or Chris Archer to the Cardinals — but more knowledgeable about the possibilities. "Expectations were to utilize these few...
Published: 11/15/17