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Remembering HR barrage, Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Garza vows to make Orioles less comfortable

RHP Matt Garza has had plenty of success against the Orioles, winning eight of 11 career starts.

But Garza enters tonight's game in Baltimore especially motivated after his last outing at Camden Yards (July 20), when he gave seven runs on four home runs, including three consecutive homers in the second inning of the Rays' 11-10 loss.

"I owe them a lot of payback for the type of outing I had last time against them," he said. "They had back-to-back-to-back. So I'm going to make them feel really uncomfortable in the box. So they know, this (stuff) doesn't happen, so don't get used to it.

"I'm going to go in there, hair on fire, like I have been and go after them and say, 'Hey, you got me the first time, well I'm going to shove it down your throat this time.' "

Garza shut several teams down in August, boasting a 1.27 ERA, the second-best monthly ERA in club history behind LHP Scott Kazmir's 1.22 in May 2008. Garza said the key has been staying with his mentality of "staying with my heater until they beat it."

Garza strayed from that plan for a stretch earlier this season, but it was out of necessity.

"It was mainly because of the stuff that was bothering me," he said. "My hips were tight, my hamstring was slightly strained, but I had to keep going. I knew what our chances were with me in, so I gamed up and went ahead. Now I feel great, I feel healthy again."

Delivering again: Closer Rafael Soriano was named MLB's delivery man of the month for August, the third time this season he has received the honor for most outstanding relief pitcher. Soriano, who has 40 saves in 42 chances, recorded a 0.84 ERA and led the majors with 10 saves during the month. Soriano, who also won the award in May and July, joins Trevor Hoffman (four times) and Joe Nathan as the only relievers with three career delivery man monthly awards, which were first given out in 2005.

NEW ROLE: RHP Jeremy Hellickson admits he's not quite sure what to expect with his new role in the bullpen, having little experience as a reliever.

Manager Joe Maddon has said the Rays won't use him on back-to-back days, and they'd prefer to have his appearances come at the beginning of an inning. Hellickson said once he's on the mound, there may be a few subtle differences than from when he starts.

"I just think you have to go right after guys," he said. "You have to have the mentality of getting that first guy out, and just go right after him with your best stuff right away, instead of saving a pitch or two for the later innings."

Hellickson, 23, said another adjustment will be to figure out how long he needs to get ready in the bullpen before he's called in. Hellickson made just one relief appearance for Class-A Charlotte, giving up four earned runs over 1 2/3 innings. He said while the results weren't good, he felt fine.

LHP David Price, who went through a similar transition in 2008 from a prized starting prospect to reliever in a pennant race, said Hellickson "has the mentality to handle it and shouldn't be fazed by all the hype."

"He just has to go out there and be himself and pitch the way he's capable of pitching," Price said. "And not try to do anything more."

PITCHING IN: The Orioles have played much better since new manager Buck Showalter took over, and Maddon said the reason for the resurgence is simple.

"They've been playing tighter games, looks like their pitching has really stepped up," Maddon said. "It's not that they're scoring tons of runs, it looks like their pitching has evolved a bit."

MINOR MATTERS: The Gulf Coast League Rays lost to the GCL Phillies 10-4 Thursday at Bright House Field in Clearwater in the third and deciding game of the championship series. … The Rays announced a four-year extension of their player development contract with Double-A Montgomery, through 2014.

Remembering HR barrage, Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Garza vows to make Orioles less comfortable 09/02/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 3, 2010 8:09am]

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