Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

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

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
Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – Two things that tell you a lot about Rays cocksure top prospect Brent Honeywell given Friday's crushing news that he indeed tore a ligament in his prized right arm and is headed for Tommy John surgery that will sideline him wel...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

SARASOTA — Colby Rasmus is making a new start with the Baltimore Orioles after taking an eight-month break from baseball.Rasmus signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles this week, after abruptly leaving the Rays in midseason. The contrac...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays open exhibition season with 6-3 win over Pirates

Rays open exhibition season with 6-3 win over Pirates

The Rays won the home game of their opening-day, split-squad set, beating the Pirates, 6-3.1B Brad Miller, with an opposite-field double off the wall, and CF Kevin Kiermaier, with a bloop single to shallow center, provided the early offense.2B Daniel...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Rays journal: Miller time could be a good time, and more from openers

Rays journal: Miller time could be a good time, and more from openers

PORT CHARLOTTE — One of the key story lines in Rays camp is seeing what kind of bounce-back season they can get out of a healthy Brad Miller, coming off October core muscle repair surgery.And while Miller isn't feeling 100 percent — he st...
Published: 02/23/18
Split-squad Rays hold on for 6-3 win at Orioles

Split-squad Rays hold on for 6-3 win at Orioles

SARASOTA — A split-squad team of Rays held on for a 6-3 victory Friday against the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.Yonny Chirinos, making his debut as a Ray, tossed a pair of scoreless innings. He allowed an infield single to former Ray Tim Beckham...
Published: 02/23/18
Live blog: Rays open spring training season against Pirates, Orioles

Live blog: Rays open spring training season against Pirates, Orioles

The Rays open the exhibition season with not one, but two games today.Non-roster pitcher Vidal Nuno will start against the Pirates at 1:05 p.m. in Port Charlotte. Denard Span, Matt Duffy, Kevin Kiermaier, Wilson Ramos, Mallex Smith and Adeiny Hechava...
Published: 02/23/18
Rays’ Honeywell has torn UCL, headed for Tommy John surgery

Rays’ Honeywell has torn UCL, headed for Tommy John surgery

The Rays got the worst-case news they were dreading, that top prospect RHP Brent Honeywell has a torn UCL and is headed for Tommy John  surgery.Honeywell said he plans to have the surgery as soon as possible to expedite his return sometime in th...
Published: 02/23/18
For starters: Split squad opener for Rays – vs. Pirates and at Orioles, 1:05

For starters: Split squad opener for Rays – vs. Pirates and at Orioles, 1:05

With 15 teams training in Florida,  there usually has to be either be at least one team off or one team playing two games. And with today the official opening day of spring training, the Rays had the bad draw of having to play split squad games....
Published: 02/23/18
Rays spring training info: Friday – vs. Pirates and at Orioles

Rays spring training info: Friday – vs. Pirates and at Orioles

Friday's games:Vs. Pirates1:05, Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte. Pitchers: Rays – LH Vidal Nuno; Pirates – RH Taylor Eppler.Radio: raysbaseball.com, MLB At Bat app (free with mlb.com account)Tickets: raysbasebal...
Published: 02/23/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays holding their breath

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays holding their breath

Rays top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell left practice Thursday after throwing a handful of pitches, and the fear (now confirmed) is he might need Tommy John surgery, ending his season before it begins.In his lastest podcast, Rick Stroud has the la...
Published: 02/23/18