The Rays sure have been on the other end of these types of games lately, but tonight on July 26, 2010 the Rays found themselves on the fun side of a brilliant pitching gem as Matt Garza fired the first perfect game in Tampa Bay Rays history. I guess they knew what to do after watching it so many times before. It’s the fifth no-hitter thrown within the first four months of the 2010 season (sixth if you’re still counting Armando Galarraga‘s perfect yet no so perfect game).

How good was Garza? Pretty damn good. The former Fresno State Bulldog allowed only one walk and faced the minimum by getting a double play following the walk. He struck out six batters and threw 120 pitches, 80 for strikes. This game actually started out with Garza and Tigers starter Max Scherzer matching each only with no hits across through five innings until Scherzer ran into a wall in the sixth. Garza is having a better season than last year record-wise as he improves to 11-5 on the year after going 8-12 in 2009, but his ERA is right on line with last year’s after this shutout.

Garza joins Ubaldo Jimenez, Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay and Edwin Jackson in the no-hitter category this season. It’s the most no-hitters since 1990 when Bret Saberhagen, Wilson Alvarez, Dennis Martinez, Tommy Greene and Nolan Ryan also tossed no-no’s. Martinez’s was the only perfect game that year while we’ve enjoyed two this year with Braden and Halladay. With two full months left, I would not be surprised to see another one by year’s end.

Not to take anything away from Garza’s performance tonight, but how watered down is that Tigers lineup now with the injuries to Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and now Magglio Ordonez? They ran out a lineup that featured a rookie still looking for his first ML hit in Will Rhymes, then Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly, Gerald Laird and Danny Worth. The bottom of that order is hitting .204, .206, .182 and .250. Terrible is the word that comes to mind. The Tigers then pinch-hit Ramon Santiago for the final at-bat of the game. Not exactly Chase Utley. Brennan Boesch was the only player to reach base against Garza and while he’s had a great first half, he’s still another rookie.  There’s no one there to protect Johnny Damon and Miguel Cabrera in the lineup anymore. To make matters even worse, former Tiger Matt Joyce hit the grand slam in this game to put the Rays up 4-0.

Jim Leyland also got ejected from the game pretty early and seemed overly angry for a missed call on a steal by BJ Upton. The Tigers appear to be falling apart, and I think they are done. This game could lead to a massive collapse and knock them completely out of the AL Central race. Three more games in Tampa Bay won’t help matters either.

Anyway, congratulations to Garza for the fifth no-hitter of the season and what will be one of the most memorable moments in Rays history.