It was mostly business as usual for Matt Garza on Wednesday night, the only difference being, he was pitching in a pennant race for the Texas Rangers.
In his first start since coming from the Chicago Cubs in a trade for prospects, Garza dominated the New York Yankees in a 3-1 victory at Rangers Ballpark. Garza allowed an unearned run, five hits and no walks in 7 1/3 innings, adding five strikeouts.
The Rangers have struggled to gain ground on the Oakland Athletics, who won again Wednesday and lead the AL West by three games. But with Garza's arrival, the Rangers figure their chances of making the playoffs and winning the World Series must have improved. And Garza gave them just what they thought they were getting in his debut. Via the Associated Press:
''He was as advertised,'' said David Murphy, who homered for Texas. ''We've seen him do it before. It was impressive to see him attack the zone like that.''
Other than a throwing error in the sixth inning, Garza said he was pleased with his first Rangers appearance:
''I'm excited. I couldn't be more happy being in a place where I'm at, a place where I'm wanted, been wanted. It's awesome,'' Garza said. ''I felt good. I just wanted to throw strikes.''
Garza (1-0) was 6-1 in his 11 starts this season for the Cubs. He was 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA his last six starts for Chicago, winning the last five.
After giving up consecutive singles to start his first game in a Rangers jersey, Garza retired 15 of the next 16 batters before his throwing error on Brett Gardner's comebacker leading off the sixth.
In exchange for Garza, the Rangers gave up a good haul of young players, including slugging third baseman Mike Olt and pitcher C.J. Edwards. Someday, Rangers fans might look upon their careers wistfully. But if the 2013 Rangers also have World Series rings around their fingers, the trade would have been worth it. Flags fly forever, as they say.
Texas got more good news with opening day starter Matt Harrison making progress in his rehab from back surgery. He threw live batting practice, facing live hitters for the first time since April. Texas is hoping he'll be able to pitch in games come September.