Matt Garza's no-hitter Monday allowed baseball fans across the country in on something baseball fans in the Tampa Bay area have known for some time: Ben Zobrist is a very good right fielder.
"Totally underrated," Manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't think people have any idea how good he is. You put him (in right) he's really good. You put him at second base he's really good. In center field he's really good. Everywhere we put him he's really good."
Maddon said the only two positions Zobrist wouldn't play on an everyday basis are third base and shortstop.
"All the other positions I could see him playing every day and (playing) really well," Maddon said.
Zobrist helped preserve the no-hitter with a leaping catch in right-center field to rob Danny Worth of at least a double in the top of the third inning.
From watching the way Worth was swinging during the at-bat, Zobrist said he knew any ball hit his way would have backspin that would add carry, and that's exactly what happened.
"I tried to get a good first step on it and try to get hard back as quick as I could," Zobrist said. "Fortunately my steps led me to the perfect time to jump, to stretch out and catch that. I think if I had to take one more step I wouldn't have gotten to it."
Zobrist also caught the final out of the game on a routine fly ball by Ramon Santiago.
"When I saw it go up in the air, I had already determined in my mind if that ball was anywhere near me I was going to get after it as hard as I could, even if it was a tough-looking play to make it look an error," he said. "When he hit it I thought it was hit a little bit harder into the gap, so my first step was kind of back. I got to it real quick and I was waiting for it to come down. I wanted to jump and get to it, because I was so excited to catch it. Once I caught it, it was just a really exciting moment."
Even more on Garza's no-no: Garza was the first pitcher to face the minimum 27 batters in a no-hitter since Mark Buehrle of the White Sox did it in 2007.
The Rays' three hits were the fewest by the winning team in a no-hitter since Sept. 16, 1988, when Tom Browning of the Reds no-hit the Dodgers in a 1-0 win. The Reds also managed three hits.
The Rays are the first team to be on both sides of a no-hitter in the same season since 1991, when the Orioles, White Sox and Expos shared the same experience.
Tickets still available for the no-hitterThose attending the Maddon Summer Social on Aug. 15 at Tropicana Field will receive a ticket from Monday's game. Log on to raysbaseball.com for more information.
When asked what a "Maddon Summer Social" is, Maddon said, "I have no idea."
It will be a meet-and-greet with Maddon and the coaches after the Rays-Orioles game, which, coincidentally, falls on Matt Garza bobblehead day.
The call of the summer: Andy Freed called the ninth inning Monday on the Rays' radio broadcast, which means he and Dave Wills have each called two of the four no-hitters the Rays have been involved in during the past two seasons.
Wills handled both perfect games and Freed the no-hitters.
Both said you can't script what to say after the final out.
"I subscribe to the Red Barber school of thought - just call the moment," Freed said. "Anything other than that and you're over-thinking."
Wills was excited to call Buehrle's perfect game against the Rays in July 2009 because of the relationship he developed with the White Sox pitcher while working on the White Sox radio crew before joining the Rays.
"It's a spur-of-the-moment thing," Wills said. "Whatever hits your mind, you say it and go with it. I tend to get excited. I test the limits of our equipment."
Odds and ends: The Rays signed fifth-round pick RHP Ian Kendall from Ashland (Ore.) High. He will report to the Gulf Coast League Rays today. ... Matt Joyce was the first player to hit a grand slam in the first game against the team that traded him since Ryan Jorgensen of the Reds slammed the Marlins on Aug. 26, 2007.