The right-hander did so by no-hitting the Tigers to record the first no-no in team history as the Rays took a 5-0 win at Tropicana Field with 17,009 fans watching.
"It's the first no-hitter I've ever had," Garza said. "It's great I was the first one to do it [in Rays history]. It's a young franchise and I have a feeling they're going to have many more to come. But I can't put enough emphasis on it how big the win was. We are trying to win the [American League] East, we're not just trying to win a couple games -- we're trying to win the East and make it known. It was a great way to start the homestand."
Since opening up for business in 1998, the Rays have been on the receiving end of four no-hitters. Derek Lowe (2002), Mark Buehrle (2009), Dallas Braden and Edwin Jackson (both in 2010) all turned the trick, with Buehrle and Braden pitching perfect games; Braden and Jackson no-hit the Rays this season. So Garza's masterpiece came with a sense of justice attached to it.
"It's nice to finally be on the other side," Carl Crawford said. "We've been in two of them [this season] and now it's nice to be on the winning side this time."
Garza's no-hitter made the Rays the first Major League team to be no-hit and throw a no-hitter in one season since 1991, when the Orioles, White Sox and Expos did it. The Rays also became the first team to be involved in three official no-hitters in one season since 1917, when the Browns no-hit the White Sox twice, and the White Sox no-hit the Browns once.
Garza faced the minimum, but did not pitch a perfect game. Brennan Boesch drew a one-out walk against him in the second, making him the only Tigers hitter to reach base -- but Ryan Raburn then hit into a 5-4-3 double-play. The righty needed 120 pitches -- 101 of which were fastballs -- to accomplish the feat.
Needing just six outs to finish the deed, Garza faced the dangerous Miguel Cabrera to start the eighth, and he quickly went to 0-2 in the count. The slugger worked the count to 2-2 before ripping a shot to left field. Crawford appeared to lose the ball in the lights before recovering to make the catch.
Garza caught the next hitter, Boesch, looking at strike three and followed by striking out Raburn swinging to end the eighth, leaving the energized crowd sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if Garza could indeed make baseball history.
Garza moved to the mound in the ninth accompanied by a standing ovation as he made his customary quirky sideways hop across the first-base line.
"In the ninth inning, I ran out there and I just told myself, 'Well, we can go about this two ways -- I can try not to get contact and get in trouble, or I can go at these guys,'" Garza said. "And if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, I have a guy who can come in the ninth inning and shut the door for me. But the most important thing tonight was the win."
Garza went to 3-2 to the first hitter in the ninth, Don Kelly, who then grounded out to Reid Brignac at second base. Gerald Laird then struck out looking, leaving Garza one out away from completing the no-hitter.
As pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago made his way to the plate, the crowd stood, almost begging Garza to finish what he'd started. And Garza delivered. Santiago hit a 1-1 pitch to right field that everybody in the ballpark knew would be hauled in by Ben Zobrist. Even before the ball nestled in Zobrist's glove, Rays players began a mad charge onto the field, evoking memories of 2008, when the team clinched its first postseason berth.
"The guy obviously made history for Tampa -- congratulations to him," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
The charge by Rays players culminated in a pile on top of Garza at the mound.
"Other than going to the World Series, this is probably the coolest thing I've been involved with," B.J. Upton said. "He's pitched well all year. He's scuffled a little bit the last month, but you know what? Good for him. I'm happy for him. Like I said, that's probably one of the coolest things I've ever been involved with."
Aside from the ball Cabrera hit to Crawford in the eighth, the closest the Tigers came to getting a hit came with two outs in the third, when Danny Worth drove a ball to right field. Zobrist tracked the ball and finished the play with a leaping grab to take away the hit.
Lost in the shuffle was the fact that Detroit starter Max Scherzer held the Rays hitless through 5 2/3 innings before the Rays loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a catcher's interference call. Carlos Pena struck out to bring up Matt Joyce, who the Rays acquired from the Tigers for Edwin Jackson prior to the 2009 season.
Joyce worked the count full before connecting with Scherzer's offering, hitting a drive that bumped the right-field foul pole for a grand slam to give the Rays a 4-0 lead. The last player to break up a no-hit bid (five innings or more) with a grand slam was Philadelphia's Dickie Thon against the Mets' Frank Viola on July 23, 1990.
"Coming up, obviously the bases were loaded, and I think both teams had a no-hitter going -- so, no pressure," Joyce said. "You're facing your old team and kind of want to prove something. I honestly had the approach to where I was just going to hit a hard ground ball up the middle. The count ran to 3-1 and I really wanted to get out there and get something out front and kind of drive it, and it ended up hitting off the bat. So I was like, 'OK, well, let's try to hit a ground ball up the middle again' -- 3-2 fastball, and I just put a good one on it."
Joyce's blast gave Garza a lift.
"I was pumped," Garza said. "When Joyce hit that ball, it's when it really erupted. Everyone was like, 'OK, cool -- four nothing, let's go."
Manager Joe Maddon smiled afterward, noting that the Rays had been on the wrong end of no-hitters enough times. And he speculated what Garza's gem might do for him and Tampa Bay in the future.
"Everything we do is about confidence, and hopefully this is a game that could really catapult him a bit," Maddon said.
First no-hitter for each franchise (Post-1900)
|Angels||Bo Belinsky||Orioles||May 5, 1962|
|Astros||Don Nottebart||Phillies||May 17, 1963|
|Athletics (1)||Weldon Henley||Browns||July 22, 1905|
|Blue Jays||Dave Stieb||Indians||Sept. 2, 1990|
|Braves (2)||Big Jeff Pfeffer||Reds||May 8, 1907|
|Brewers||Juan Nieves||Orioles||April 15, 1987|
|Cardinals||Jesse Haines||Braves||July 17, 1924|
|Cubs||Jimmy Lavender||Giants||Aug. 31, 1915|
|D-backs||Randy Johnson||Braves||May 18, 2004|
|Dodgers (3)||Mal Eason||Cardinals||July 20, 1906|
|Giants (4)||Christy Matthewson||Cardinals||July 15, 1901|
|Indians||Bob Rhoads||Red Sox||Sept. 18, 1908|
|Mariners||Randy Johnson||Tigers||June 2, 1990|
|Mets||Yet to throw no-hitter|
|Marlins||Al Leiter||Rockies||May 11, 1996|
|Nationals (5)||Bill Stoneman||Phillies||April 17, 1969|
|Orioles (6)||Earl Hamilton||Tigers||Aug. 30, 1912|
|Padres||Yet to throw no-hitter|
|Phillies||Chuck Fraser||Cubs||Sept. 18, 1903|
|Pirates||Nick Maddox||Superbas||Sept. 20, 1907|
|Rangers||Jim Bibby||Athletics||July 30, 1973|
|Rays||Matt Garza||Tigers||July 26, 2010|
|Red Sox (7)||Cy Young*||Athletics||May 5, 1904|
|Reds||Nixey Callahan||Phillies||July 12, 1900|
|Rockies||Ubaldo Jimenez||Braves||April 17, 2010|
|Royals||Steve Busby||Tigers||April 27, 1973|
|Tigers||George Mullin||Browns||July 4, 1912|
|Twins (8)||Walter Johnson||Red Sox||July 1, 1920|
|White Sox||Frank Smith||Tigers||Sept. 6, 1905|
|Yankees||George Mogridge||Red Sox||April 24, 1917|
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.