It doesn't take a great pitcher to throw a no-hitter.
Sometimes, however, a no-hitter can serve as a reminder, a signal flare from a talented young pitcher with electric stuff that he might still put it all together and blossom into the pitcher he was once expected to be. Such is the case for
There are several types of no-hitters. Setting aside the perfect games and multi-pitcher no-nos, there are the no-hitters in which the authoring pitcher dominates the opposition for nine innings, carving up the opposing lineup, and those in which the man on the mound seems as lucky as he is good and seems to almost pick and choose his spots throughout the game, as
Garza's no-hitter falls into the former category. He issued a full-count walk to
True, he faced a Tigers lineup devastated by injury that included such legends as
After struggling in his debut, Garza acquitted himself well for a 22-year-old rookie who had been an undergrad just a year before and had already thrown 135 2/3 minor league innings before tossing 50 more in the majors. Still, the Twins left him in Triple-A when they broke camp in 2007, opting instead for a rotation that included
That trade proved to be instrumental in the breakthrough of the Tampa Bay franchise. Rechristened the Rays, Tampa Bay relied heavily on Bartlett's defense and Garza's impressive stuff to go from worst to first in the AL East in 2008, winning a shocking 97 games, squeezing the Yankees out of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, and ultimately capturing the American League pennant by defeating the Red Sox in a hotly contested, seven-game American League Championship Series. The Most Valuable Player in that series was Garza, who held the powerful Boston lineup to two runs across 13 innings in a pair of wins, including the Game 7 victory, striking out nine Sox while allowing just two hits in seven innings.
Though Garza remains an inconsistent and temperamental starter, having failed to blossom in the wake of his success in 2008, at his frequent best, he is every bit as good as he appeared in his Monday night no-hitter. On April 30 of last year, he held the Red Sox scoreless on one hit over 7 2/3 innings while striking out 10. On June 24, he held the Phillies to one run on three hits over eight innings while striking out seven. Those were two of the top four offenses in the game last year. After holding the Sox to three hits in seven innings on Aug. 4, he held the Blue Jays scoreless on three hits over 7 1/3 innings on Sept. 19 while striking out 10. If a pitcher can have "no-hit stuff," Garza has it. His mid-90s fastball, and sharp curve and slider are legitimate out-pitches, and he's still just 26.
Still, just because Garza was able to put it all together on one night (with an assist from
As for the rash of no-hit ballgames we've seen this season (Garza's was the fifth official no-hit game after no-nos by
As I pointed out in the wake of Jackson's no-hitter, these events are infrequent enough to qualify as