ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays finally wound up on the right side of a memorable pitching performance.
Matt Garza threw the first no-hitter in franchise history and the fifth in the Major Leagues this season, beating the Detroit Tigers 5-0 on Monday night.
“We needed one. I don’t care who it came from. We just needed one for our own confidence,” Garza said, mindful that the Rays have been held hitless four times in their 13-season history — three times in the past year. “The guys are just as excited as I am. It’s fun.”
The 26-year-old right-hander faced the minimum 27 batters in his 106th career start, allowing only a second-inning walk to Brennan Boesch, for a team that’s often been on the wrong end of pitching gems lately.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Tribune
Two of the no-hitters tossed against the Rays since July 2009 were perfect games. They didn’t manage a hit Monday off starter Max Scherzer until Matt Joyce’s sixth-inning grand slam.
“It was one of those days where everything lined up,” Garza said. “The defense made great plays. I really can’t say enough about them.”
Garza (11-5) was the latest to shine in the Year of the Pitcher. The last time there were at least five no-hitters in a season was 1991, when Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan threw one of seven in the big leagues that year, according to STATS LLC.
It’s only the third time in Major League history that a team has been involved in three no-hitters during one season. The 1917 St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox were involved in three — all against each other.
It’s also the first time in 37 years that two no-hitters have occurred in the same AL ballpark in one season. After going 1,006 games without one at Tropicana Field, two have been tossed in the past 11 games at the hitter-friendly dome.
“The guy obviously made history for Tampa, congratulations to him,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said, adding that Garza dominated the Tigers with “high fastball after high fastball.”
Garza, a former Fresno State standout and the 2008 AL Championship Series MVP, rebounded from one of his worst outings this season to win his fourth straight decision and tie a career best for victories. He retired pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago for the final out on an easy fly ball to right fielder Ben Zobrist, who made a terrific running catch in the third to rob Danny Worth.
“That ninth inning,” Garza said, “I kept telling myself, ‘Just finish it, just finish it, just battle, battle. If it’s meant to happen, it’s going to happen.’ ”
Garza’s teammates mobbed him near the mound after a performance that left the New York Mets and San Diego Padres as the only big league teams without a no-hitter.