Garza's Better Balls Win Battle of the Rehabbers
Matt Garza looked all tuned up and ready to go tonight at Principal Park as he tossed six scoreless innings that required only 75 pitches by my count. Maybe it was the balls. More on those later. He also fielded his one chance with the glove flawlessly.
Both of the hits Garza allowed, one of them a ringing single off the right-field wall, came in the 2nd, an inning that ended on a 4-6-3 double play. From that point until there were two down in the 6th he retired 12 straight before hitting the next to last batter he faced.
All told he fanned six, two looking; four trying, and walked no one. By innings his pitch counts were 13, 18, 11, 11, 14 and 8. Ten days ago he topped out at 94 in the velocity department. Tonight he hit 96 once and 95 several times. I found no fault in his performance but when he made his way out of the box toward 1st at a pace that can most charitably be described as pedestrian after swatting a routine grounder a rather tubby old guy not far from me in the stands really let him have it, loudly labeling him a “lollygagger.” No one else held that against him. When he made his way from the dugout to the clubhouse between the 6th and 7th innings most of the fans rose and applauded in appreciation of the work he was sent here to do as he passed by, tipping his cap and pausing to sign one autograph along the way.
Now, back to the balls.
One of Garza’s 75 pitches was fouled over the roof into the parking lot. My vantage point and the ballpark’s design permitted me to track the ball and I noticed that no one went in pursuit of it. At inning’s end I dashed out and found it next to a motorcycle. When I picked it up I saw that it wasn’t a PCL ball; it was an official major leaguer. A couple frames later I located a man who’d stepped out for a smoke and retrieved another of Garza’s offerings that was fouled out of play. It too was a Bud Selig autographed model. Then, as I was leaving after Garza was through, another ball came bouncing along as I was getting into my car. A mother snagged it for her little boy and I asked them if I could have a look at it. Brooks Raley was now pitching in relief and, sure enough, this souvenir was the regular PCL equipment. Do you suppose it was by Garza’s request that MLB balls were furnished for him or were they ordered by higher authorities’? And since his mound opponent was fellow rehabber Clayton Richard, do you think the same courtesy was afforded him?
Besides Garza, who left with a 1-0 lead by the way, the other aspect of the game I paid particular attention to were the at-bats of the now bearded Brett Jackson. All told, in the three I witnessed he saw 14 pitches and swung at 12 of them while striking out twice and flying to the warning track in center.
That is all...