Matt Garza is amped up.

“It’s just [about] going right after those guys.  Make them uncomfortable.  Make them think about what they’re doing, what they’re going to swing at.  Right now, they’re real comfortable.  They’re just up there swinging and hitting the cover off the ball.  So I’ve got to go in there and make them uncomfortable, make them do what I want them to do.  It’s a hard job, definitely a hard job, but somebody has got to do it.  And I feel I’m the right man for the job right now.”

So said Matt Garza, minutes after Texas 6, Tampa Bay 0 in Game Two.

“He’s a tough competitor.  He is a guy that will go out there and will do everything he can to get outs; he usually does.  It’s going to be very tough [Saturday] with him.  But we have to maintain our composure and what we have to do, more than anything else, is take advantage of an opportunity if the door opens up.  That’s all you can do.”

So said Ron Washington, about Garza.

Does that mean Elvis Andrus and Michael Young (the latter of whom is really the only Rangers hitter, along with Vladimir Guerrero, who has beaten up on Garza) need to be on guard when they dig in at the plate in the bottom of the first?  Not necessarily.

Garza on September 2, the night before a start in Baltimore, where he’d been blasted for seven runs on 10 hits (including four home runs) in 6.1 innings six weeks earlier:

“I owe them a lot of payback for the type of outing I had last time against them. . . . 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 went on to beat the Orioles on September 3, yielding one run in 5.2 innings.  

He didn’t hit a batter.  He just shut the Baltimore offense down.

The emotional Garza, who you might recall got into a heated argument on the mound with his catcher Dioner Navarro in a June 2008 start here, has extra motivation today.  Rangers hitters have teed off in Games One and Two, slugging .479 as a team.  Tampa Bay – baseball’s best road team in 2010 – faces elimination.  And Garza’s career ERA in Arlington, despite decent peripherals, is 6.04.  

It’s going to be a fascinating matchup, particularly early, when the late-afternoon sun could make Garza’s and Colby Lewis’s sharp breaking balls even more difficult to pick up.  

The only Rays hitter who has faced Lewis since 2003 is Jason Bartlett, who struck out on three pitches when Lewis came in for Oakland in the eighth to mop up a 5-0 deficit to the Twins.

But if that’s an obstacle for Tampa Bay today, it may not be any more significant than the one the Rangers could face simply by virtue of having treated Garza badly in this ballpark before.

Wear red if you’re headed to the Ballpark.  

The televised postgame show will be on Channel 677 (Fox Sports Southwest’s alternate signal) if you have DirecTV.

Have a great day.  


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(c) Jamey Newberg
Twitter  @newbergreport

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