Garza, Rays fall short against Jays
Right-hander allows one run before floodgates open
TORONTO -- Rays manager Joe Maddon is a man who often has a lot to say. During his daily meetings with reporters, Maddon will include analytical thoughts and explanations in many of his answers to the questions he is asked.
However, after the Rays lost to the Blue Jays, 6-2, on Wednesday and with Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum coming within one out of a complete-game shutout, there was not much that Maddon could say to describe the game.
"Marcum was good," Maddon said following the game, before reporters could even ask a question. "I knew that coming in. What? Did we triple our hit total against him lifetime? He makes good pitches, he keeps the ball down and changes speeds.
"He knows what he's doing and he's good. He beat us tonight."
Marcum (4-2) dominated the Rays for most of the game, allowing just one hit until the ninth inning. In the ninth, the Rays (17-16) were able to score two runs to chase the Jays' right-hander from the game, on an RBI double to the right-center-field gap by B.J. Upton.
The Tampa Bay runs did not matter in the loss, though, and in the Rays clubhouse after the game, Marcum was the subject of conversation. The Blue Jays (17-18) starter finished the day allowing just two runs on four hits over 8 2/3 innings. He walked one batter while striking out nine.
"Marcum threw really well," said Rays starter Matt Garza (1-1). "You have just got to tip your cap to him. To take a one-hit shutout into the ninth. You can't say much about it. He made his pitches when he had to and really stepped up."
To his credit, despite fighting through command issues, Garza was able to match Marcum for the first six innings, keeping the Jays off the scoreboard until the seventh. In that inning, with one out and runners on first and second, Jays shortstop and No. 9 hitter Marco Scutaro lined a single into left field that drove in Aaron Hill to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.
"Garza pitched well," said Maddon. "His command overall was maybe not as sharp as you'd like to be, when you look at the ball to strike ratio [59 strikes to 47 balls]. However, the ball was alive. He was throwing some bowling balls up there and getting the ground balls."
The Tampa right-hander allowed just one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings. While the starter left the game trailing 1-0, a trio of Tampa Bay relievers were unable to keep the game within reach, allowing the Jays to tally five runs in the eighth inning. In the eighth, Jays third baseman Scott Rolen hit a two-run home run into the left-center-field stands and three different Toronto players hit RBI singles.
While the Tampa Bay offense could not get much going, Carlos Pena was a player who was feeling the heat after the game. The first baseman struck out three times on Wednesday, including in the ninth inning with a runner on second, to end the game. He has now struck out in eight of his last nine at-bats.
Following the loss, Maddon called Pena into his office for a closed-door meeting. When the meeting was finished, Pena told reporters that his manager just wanted to help relieve some of the pressure.
"Joe always has some great things to say," Pena said. "All he wants me to do is just go out there and enjoy myself. Not put too much pressure on myself. Just make sure I come out and have fun."
Pena also said that he is not going to allow his recent struggles to affect his thinking.
"The last two days have been kind of tough," he said. "Beyond that, I've had two weeks straight of great swings, great contact and great at-bats. So, am I going to define myself because of the last two days that I had?
"It's not practical to even think that way," he continued. "That's why it's so important, if you had a bad day, to throw it out the window and come back and play tomorrow."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.