ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 24: Starting pitcher Matt Garza #22 of the Texas Rangers is pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees on July 24, 2013 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
Much like when A.J. Pierzynski came to the Rangers this winter, Matt Garza was looking to turn some fans' opinions on Wednesday night during his debut with the Texas Rangers. It didn't take long.
Like Pierzynski, Garza is one of those guys fans usually hate, unless he's on their team. He's known for getting a little amped up on the mound, yelling and screaming at himself and even at times getting in fights with his own teammates in the heat of the battle. He's a fierce competitor who will win at all costs.
That's what the Rangers need, especially in their starting rotation — that killer instinct, something Garza definitely has.
Take this quote, dug up by the great Jamey Newberg, as evidence from 2010 before he faced the Rangers in the ALDS for the Tampa Bay Rays with the Rangers holding a 2-0 series lead.
"It's just [about] going right after those guys. Make them uncomfortable. Make them think about what they're doing, what they're going to swing at. Right now, they're real comfortable. They're just up there swinging and hitting the cover off the ball. So I've got to go in there and make them uncomfortable, make them do what I want them to do. It's a hard job, definitely a hard job, but somebody has got to do it. And I feel I'm the right man for the job right now."
Those are the words of a fierce competitor with a little bit of edge, and verging on crazy, as Pierzynski put it. Garza went on to beat the Rangers in Game 3 of that series.
Here's another gem from Garza before a start in Baltimore, where he'd given up seven runs on 10 hits six weeks earlier:
"I owe them a lot of payback for the type of outing I had last time against them. . . . I'm going to make them feel really uncomfortable in the box. So they know, this [stuff] doesn't happen, so don't get used to it. . . . I'm going to go in there, hair on fire, like I have been and go after them and say, 'Hey, you got me the first time, well I'm going to shove it down your throat this time.'"
Garza gave up one run in that outing.
The Rangers have some great starting pitchers, but none with that edge that strikes a little bit of fear into opposing hitters. Garza gives them that, and his outing Wednesday night couldn't have gone any better except for a throwing error of his own that led to the Yankees' only run of the night — an unearned one. Garza went 7 1/3 innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Quite the debut.
Garza yelled and screamed and cussed himself after making the throwing error, and his teammates noticed, respecting the competitive fire Garza has running through his veins.
"He was as advertised," David Murphy told ESPN Dallas. "It's almost funny at times [the way he reacts]. It got a hold of him when he made that bad throw. He wants to win."