TORONTO — Matt Garza used to be able to handle the Toronto Blue Jays.
But this year, the Tampa Bay right-hander has lost both his starts to them, on April 23 and then again on Monday, when Toronto edged the Rays 3-2 in the opener of a three-game series at Rogers Centre.
It is pretty much the way things have gone for him in May. He won his first start of the month on May 5 to go 5-1 with a 2.09 earned-run average for the season.
Since then, he has not won in five starts, losing three of them to fall to 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA.
Garza allowed three runs, two on Adam Lind’s first-inning homer, and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings on Monday. He was out-pitched by Toronto starter Brandon Morrow.
In his previous start on May 26 he took the loss to the Boston Red Sox after giving up six runs in five innings. The start before that, May 21 at Houston, he pitched eight innings but giving up two runs was enough to give him the loss.
“We’re not scoring enough runs,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We scored two runs this time and in Houston, he pitched eight innings, 100 pitches, and loses.
“He pitched well enough for the win tonight. He pitched well enough in Houston. I think it’s lot of what you saw last season when we didn’t score enough runs for him and all of a sudden his record isn’t what people expect from him after he got off the great start in wins.”
Garza finished 8-12 with a 3.95 ERA last season in 32 starts. He had the lowest run support in the American League at 3.68 runs per nine innings pitched. There were 17 AL starters with an ERA below 4.00 last season and he was the only one to have a losing record.
In his first start this season against Toronto at Tropicana Field, Garza lasted five innings and allowed five runs, eight hits and four walks to take the loss.
After Monday’s loss, his combined record with the Rays and Minnesota Twins against Toronto is 5-4, 2.35 ERA in 12 starts.
Garza said Lind hit “a great pitch” for his home run.
“It was a fastball down and away,” Garza said. “He went down and got it and tip your cap and keep pitching. You can’t do anything about it.”
He also mentioned the two doubles hit by Toronto leadoff man Fred Lewis as an example of how his start went.
“Lewis hits a changeup away in the fifth right out of (first baseman Carlos Pena’s) reach,” Garza said. “And in the seventh he hits a slider off the plate and takes the other way.
“Whenever you spot a team runs, especially a team that has firepower like they do it’s hard to battle back. Their guy (Morrow) on the bump today, he was on.
“He had our guys off-balance all night. That’s a good game called with (Jose) Molina behind the dish. We’re trying to find ways to grind it out and it doesn’t help when your starting pitcher spots their guys two runs in the first.”