ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays say there is nothing wrong with Matt Garza.
But it sure seems something isn't right.
Garza had a second straight poor outing, again failing to get through five innings, and again giving up six runs on nine hits, and again not having an explanation except that he was trying too hard and his arm was feeling too good.
He did say he was "extremely" disappointed: "That's not like me. Big situations, big games, that's usually my territory.''
Manager Joe Maddon had a similar diagnosis, saying he, too, thought Garza was trying too hard, and didn't think the problems had to do with fatigue or injury but flaws with his delivery.
"I'm certain he's going to be fine,'' Maddon said. "I know he's healthy, his inning and his pitches, etc., are in good shape, we've just got to him back on track with his delivery.''
THE REAL McGEE: LHP Jake McGee's major-league debut didn't go very well, as he threw six consecutive balls leading to a pair of walks that forced in a run, and three walks overall to the four batters he faced.
But the Rays are confident much better things are to come.
McGee, 24, called up Tuesday after an impressive month in the bullpen at Triple-A Durham, said he was pleasantly surprised at how well the transition from starter went, especially enjoyed the opportunity to rear back and fire, hitting as high as s 99 mph.
"I'm a lot more aggressive," he said. "Instead of pacing myself, I go out 100 percent and let it go."
Maddon is excited about having two lefty relievers for the first time this season and said that though Randy Choate remains the primary option, he won't hesitate to use McGee in tough situations.
ON SCHEDULE: The 2011 schedule was released, with the Rays opening at home against Baltimore (on a Friday, April 1, under MLB's new scheduling format) and finishing at home with the Yankees (Sept. 26-28). Of note, they have two weekend home series with the Red Sox (July 15-17 and Sept. 9-11) but none with the Yankees; make interleague trips to Florida, Houston and Milwaukee and host the Cardinals, Marlins and Reds; and have four three-city trips, including two long journeys, to Seattle, Anaheim and Baltimore for 10 games June 2-12, and to Kansas City, Oakland and Seattle for 10 games July 22-31.
SHIELDS UP: Struggling RHP James Shields is going to try something different tonight on Maddon's advice, which is basically to not throw as hard.
Shields met Sunday morning with Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey, and said the message was simple: Stop throwing too hard and thinking too much. "He just talked about getting out of my delivery and staying within myself and going back to not trying to throw hard and maybe just trying to get ground balls and outs rather than trying to put guys away every single at-bat," Shields said.
MINOR MATTERS: Durham lost 18-5 at Columbus to open play in the International League best-of-five championship round. … C Jose Lobaton, who was called up Aug. 31 and placed on the major-league DL on Aug. 31 in a bit of roster manipulation, rejoined the Bulls on a rehabilitation assignment.
MISCELLANY: This was the first time the Rays and Yankees played consecutive extra-inning games. … The seven runs in the fifth matched the Rays season high for an inning (and matched their most against the Yankees), and also was the eighth time they batted around in their past nine games. … Struggling 1B Carlos Peña was dropped to seventh in the order, though Maddon said: "I'm looking forward to getting him back up to the 5-hole as quickly as possible." … Yankees OF Nick Swisher (left knee) said an MRI exam Tuesday revealed just inflammation, which he considered good news, and he received a cortisone shot. … Reid Brignac started at short ahead of Jason Bartlett as a result of the pitching matchups, Maddon said, not because of Monday's winning homer.
Staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.