He’ll hope to help his Tampa Bay Rays avoid a third straight loss as they open their road slate Monday night with the first of three in Baltimore, where the Orioles were swept in their first home series.
Garza (1-0, 1.13 ERA) had been 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA in eight career starts against Baltimore coming into the season, so it wasn’t a big surprise when he struck out nine in eight innings of a 4-3 win over the Orioles on Wednesday.
The hard-throwing right-hander held Baltimore to four hits and two runs, both of which came in the first inning and one of which was unearned.
“He settled in and got better as the game went on,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s definitely focused and motivated right now.”
Tampa Bay (3-3) took two of three from the Orioles and beat the Yankees on Friday night, but the club was outscored 17-3 while losing the final two games over the weekend to the reigning World Series champions.
The Rays didn’t get a hit until the eighth inning of a 10-0 loss Saturday, then squandered an early 2-0 lead in Sunday’s 7-3 defeat, with their bullpen allowing five runs in 3 2-3 innings.
Tampa Bay plays its next 10 on the road after putting up a disappointing 32-49 record away from home last year.
The club’s woes, however, appear mild compared with Baltimore’s after the Orioles (1-5) had problems all over the field while getting swept by Toronto.
After closer Mike Gonzalez blew his second save in three chances Friday - equaling his result from opening day against the Rays - Baltimore’s bats went silent in a 3-0 loss Saturday and a key error by Miguel Tejada(notes) helped enable a late Toronto comeback in Sunday’s 5-2 defeat.
“When things aren’t going right for you and you give the other club a four-out inning, that’s what happens,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.
The Orioles’ offense has encountered problems in the last two games without second baseman and leadoff man Brian Roberts(notes), who is expected to be placed on the disabled list with an abdominal strain.
Just as it did last time against Garza, Baltimore will send Jeremy Guthrie(notes) (0-1, 4.26) to the mound. Coming off a disappointing 2009, the right-hander wasn’t bad Wednesday, allowing three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out six.
“Confident with the pitches I had and for the most part the location was pretty good,” Guthrie said. “Much better than any start I had last year with the slider, so that’s a real positive.”
Guthrie slipped to 3-6 with a 4.70 ERA lifetime against Tampa Bay, but he threw six sharp innings in a 6-0 win in his last home start against the Rays on April 11, 2009.