ARLINGTON — Matt Garza hadn’t spoken to members of the media before his start against the New York Yankees Wednesday night. In fact, he seemed rather quiet in the locker room a few hours before the game sporting a new hooded Rangers sweatshirt, ear buds in.
Looking confident, but reserved.
Whatever Garza was listening to must have done the job to get him fired up, because it was with a not-so-reserved confidence - some would call it swagger - that he took the mound and dealt seven-and-a-third innings of stellar baseball in a 3-1 Rangers victory.
He said after the game that he is always competitive and shows emotion on the mound.
“I hate losing. It’s not fun,” Garza said. “I think everybody that gets to this level has that edge, I’m just a little more showy about it. I hate losing, that’s just my mentality.
“It does everything,” outfielder David Murphy said of having Garza on the team. “It takes the pressure off of us as an offense, and adds electricity to the ballpark.”
Garza had electric stuff at times, and didn’t have to worry much about losing on Wednesday night.
Garza hit a rough patch in the sixth inning, as he didn’t help his own cause with the glove.
Brett Gardner slapped a grounder back to Garza and ended up with a Little League triple. Garza bobbled the ball but quickly gathered it before making an errant throw to first (using the phrase “to first” lightly, since it was nowhere close to first base), that allowed Gardner to scamper all the way to third base.
Robinson Cano proceeded to lace a single just past the glove of a lunging Ian Kinsler that brought home Gardner.
A double play ground ball erased any further Yankee threat in the sixth inning, and that one unearned run would be the only blemish on Garza’s ledger.
Manager Ron Washington said Garza provides an immediate improvement to the pitching staff.
“You look at our rotation, its solid,” he said. “And [Garza] makes it more solid. He gives us a guy than when he goes out there we know we’ve got a chance.”
Washington cited Garza’s work in the seventh inning when speaking on his success Wednesday night. A rare error by Adrian Beltre at third came with two outs in the inning, but Garza retired the next hitter, Melky Mesa, on a flyout to right.
“That’s what you look forward to when you have that type of guy on the mound,” Washington said. “You make a mistake and he picks you up.”
A.J. Pierzynski provided the first two runs for Texas, with an RBI single in the first inning, and by finding the right field bleachers with a 371-foot, go-ahead home run in the bottom of the sixth.
Murphy drilled a 425-foot home run into the Ranger bullpen to provide an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning. He said it felt good to contribute to the offensive effort behind Garza.
“We learned last night that a one-run lead doesn’t always cut it,” Murphy said. “The pitching staff picks us up plenty, so it was great for us to pick them up.”
And as it turned out, three runs would be more than the Rangers needed to hold off the Yankees. Neal Cotts relieved Garza to make quick work of lefties Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki in the eighth, and faced lefties Cano and Lyle Overbay in the ninth before Joe Nathan came in to record a one-out save.
The win keeps the Rangers’ deficit at three games in the AL West, and sets them up for a shot at a three-of-four series win Thursday afternoon. First pitch is set for one o'clock.