ST. PETERSBURG -- The plan was Ryan Garton would pitch in sixth had Mike Trout come up to bat. He'd been warming up, harnessing in on the game plan to try and elevate his fastball against one of the best players in the game.But Trout was left in the on-deck
ST. PETERSBURG -- The plan was Ryan Garton would pitch in sixth had Mike Trout come up to bat. He'd been warming up, harnessing in on the game plan to try and elevate his fastball against one of the best players in the game.
But Trout was left in the on-deck circle. Yunel Escobar grounded out, stranding the lead run at second base. Garton took his seat back in the right field bullpen.
The Rays' bullpen lacks defined roles, has different guys getting called up and sent down regularly and hadn't recorded a save since June 14th. There was no way Garton could know then that he'd not only get his chance against Trout, but he'd strike him out and pick up his first MLB save in a 4-2 Tampa Bay win Monday at Tropicana Field.
"I got the call again, and I was like, 'All right, this is going to happen,' I got the opportunity," Garton said. "I was just super excited that I did my job."
Four days prior, Garton failed to do his job. He came in with a 7-2 lead in the ninth on Thursday against the Tigers and allowed four straight hits to start the inning. It was the most glaring performance for a bullpen that had a 9.29 ERA in the 18 games prior.
This time, the ninth inning treated him differently. After allowing a walk to Escobar, he struck out Trout looking and eventually got C.J. Cron to foul out -- Garton watched the ball all the way into Logan Morrion's glove before celebrating.
"Hopefully Ryan Garton's got a smile ear-to-ear and doesn't wipe it off all night," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Really happy for him."
Rays starter Matt Moore lasted 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs. Erasmo Ramirez came in for four outs, and pitched effectively. Dana Eveland started the ninth inning, and struck out Shane Robinson on three pitches to set the table for Garton.
Alex Colome had all 19 saves for the Rays this season, but he hasn't pitched since June 19th and was since placed on the disabled list with medial biceps tendinitis in his right arm. Other Rays pitchers have gone 0-for-10 in save chances this season.
Garton's mom, stepdad, brother, two nephews and sister-in-law were all at the game. They got to see him on Monday in his breakout performance, pitching for the hometown team he grew up rooting for.
On Monday, he helped his team that not only desperately needed a win, but needed its bullpen to come through. He was the centerpiece of the postgame celebration right after the team got back to the clubhouse. And he had the game ball sitting in his glove tucked in the back of his locker.
"I love it. I'm loving every second of it," Garton said. "Hopefully I'll stay up here for a while and keep helping the team win."
Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.