BALTIMORE — For all the troubles the Rays tend to have on the road, it wasn't much of a good sign they were stuck sitting on a plane for more than three hours Sunday night due to mechanical issues before they could even leave for Baltimore.
But at least for one night, they showed they could handle themselves just fine away from home, beating the Orioles 5-1.
Matt Garza overcame another shaky beginning to post a second strong eight-inning start and improve to 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA. And Carl Crawford had a huge night, going 4-for-4, including a double that sparked the go-ahead rally and a home run, and making another spectacular diving catch.
There were a few other highlights, such as Reid Brignac's rainbow homer to right, Ben Zobrist's RBI triple and some heads-up play when the Orioles messed up on the bases, on a cool night that drew the smallest crowd, 9,129, in the 19-season history of Camden Yards.
Manager Joe Maddon has prioritized better play on the road, with a minimum goal of .500, and minimized any excuses.
"(Monday) was the first test for us on the road," Crawford said, "so it was good to see we were still able to keep our composure and come ready to play, come with the businesslike attitude we've been having so far. So it was nice we were able to get a win on the road early on."
Garza sputtered a bit early — allowing a homer to Felix Pie on his second pitch of the night, a pair of singles in the second, a couple of walks in the third — then started attacking. He retired the next 11 and allowed just two singles and a walk while getting through eight with 103 pitches.
"Seeing what my defense does and the way they play, there's no reason to be nibbling," he said.
Maddon said he was good but not great; Garza didn't want to hear even that much, more annoyed that in two starts he has walked five, one less than his total for 272/3 spring innings.
"Too many walks — that's ridiculous," Garza said. "I don't care about the punchouts (he had five), the hits (he allowed six), the runs (one); the walks is the tough one."
Crawford's offense had been a bit sporadic before Monday — his fourth career 4-for-4 performance and 21st four-hit game — upped his average to .375.
But his defense has been downright dazzling. Monday's catch, as he raced to his left and caught it in full flight, was at least the fourth highlight-reel play he has made (and third the umps counted) in the seven games.
"He did not win a Gold Glove last year, and he should have," Maddon said. "I think he's really out to show everybody why he deserves a Gold Glove this year."
Crawford offered a simpler explanation: "I'm just trying to catch every ball I can get to, and I'm trying to get to every ball I can get to and help the pitcher out."
He could have worn a cape for Monday's, flying sideways to rob Garret Atkins at a key point, with the Rays up 3-1 and a man on.
"Ridiculous," Garza said. "I even told him, that's disgusting what you did. You really can't put it into words."
For what it's worth, Crawford said the homer, his first, was better: "You know I like my defense, but I love the home run, too. Anybody who says they like anything better than a home run to you is lying."
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com.