ARLINGTON -- Matt Garza will be wearing a different combination of red, white and blue as he makes his Texas Ranger debut Wednesday in Arlington in the third game of a four-game set with the New York Yankees.
Garza will throw to his former battery mate in Chicago, Geovany Soto. Soto said Monday after the acquisition of the highly-coveted Cub that it would take about a day and a half for Garza to get comfortable.
Well, here we are, a day-and-a-half after the acquisition, and it’s Garza’s time to shine. And his coach was pretty clear about his expectations for the new hurler.
“[My expectations] are the same for him as for any other pitcher,” Washington said. “To keep us in the ball game, that’s it. And I know he will do that.”
As far as the day-and-a-half Soto alluded to Monday, reliever Tanner Scheppers is confident it was enough time for Garza to get acclimated.
“He’s been around the league quite a bit, it’s not his first time being traded,” Scheppers said. “He’s professional, he’s going to go out there and do what his job entails. He’s going to go out there and get guys out.”
Scheppers is a member of the Ranger bullpen that holds the best ERA as a relief unit in the American League. He said for Garza, as for any other starter, the relievers would be ready to throw in a close game.
“We’re always on our toes. That’s the life of a bullpen guy, never knowing exactly what you’re going to get,” Scheppers said.
The bullpen was ready to relieve Alexi Ogando after five innings and 78 pitches in his return to the mound Tuesday. Three no-hit innings set the stage for Joe Nathan’s thirty-second save of the season, but the man who ranks second among active players in career saves could not capitalize.
Despite the late-inning loss, Washington’s confidence in the bullpen and in Nathan has not waivered.
“He’s my closer,” Washington said. “If we get a chance to close the game, Joe is going to close it. I haven’t thought about anything else.”
The Rangers are finally getting strength back in the starting rotation, Washington said, with the return of Yu Darvish and Ogando in addition to the Garza trade. But he also said the offense is showing signs of life lately, too.
“The past couple of nights it looks like we’re ready to grind and do what we need to do offensively,” he said.
The offense will be tested by cagey 41-year-old veteran Andy Pettitte on Wednesday night as the Rangers look to avoid another losing streak.
Despite recent struggles, confidence is high for this Ranger club. And that could be just what it takes to make Garza a winner is his first start. It could also prove beneficial as the team continues its division race.
Garza will throw his first pitch as a Ranger at 7:05 p.m. at Rangers Ballpark.