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Daily Dose: Garza flirts with perfection

Garza has owned the Red Sox


Matt Garza took a perfect game into the seventh inning Thursday versus the Red Sox, eventually allowing just an infield single to Jacoby Ellsbury in 7.2 scoreless innings. He struck out 10 and handed out just one walk while throwing 75 of 108 pitches for strikes, improving to 7-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 10 starts against Boston including the playoffs.

Even ignoring his postseason heroics last October, he now has a 3.72 ERA with 162 strikeouts and just 190 hits allowed in 218 innings spread over 35 starts with the Rays. Meanwhile, the man he was essentially traded for, Delmon Young, has hit just .286/.331/.397 with 11 measly homers and horrible defense in 168 games for the Twins.

While the Young-for-Garza swap keeps looking better and better for Tampa Bay, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Josh Hamilton's injured ribs have forced the Rangers to use Andruw Jones and he's responded in a big way. He went deep Thursday, giving him three homers in just 32 at-bats to match his total in 209 at-bats last year. Jones is 11-for-32 with three homers, five doubles, and 11 walks overall for a .344/.523/.781 line that is absolutely astonishing from someone who was looking pretty close to finished.

Jones barely made the team out of spring training after the Dodgers opted to eat his salary by cutting him, yet he's suddenly back to hitting for power and drawing walks like the guy who was on a Hall of Fame path through age 29. There's still plenty of reason to be skeptical about Jones' resurgence considering the ghastly .205/.297/.369 line he posted in 229 games between 2007 and 2008.

On the other hand, he also batted 18-for-60 (.300) with three homers and seven doubles this spring and is seemingly over the knee problems that ruined his time in Los Angeles. Jones is certainly highly unlikely to keep up anything resembling his current pace, but he should get regular playing time in Texas' outfield until he slows down considerably and his 9/11 K/BB ratio suggests legitimately change.

* Put on the disabled list earlier this week, Jose Valverde had fluid removed from his strained right calf Thursday and is scheduled to have even more fluid drained Friday. An incision made to drain the fluid will likely need around three weeks to heal, so Valverde has little chance of pitching at all in May. Astros manager Cecil Cooper has confirmed that LaTroy Hawkins will serve as closer in the meantime.

* Garza was definitely the big story for the Rays, but Evan Longoria also went off Thursday night by singling, doubling, and homering while driving in four runs and notching his 600th career plate appearance. His career totals now include a .288 batting average, 33 homers, 42 doubles, 54 walks, eight steals, 109 RBIs, and a .915 OPS in 143 games. Oh, and he doesn't turn 24 years old until October.

AL Quick Hits: Joakim Soria (shoulder) is still unavailable, so Juan Cruz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save Thursday … Josh Hamilton (ribs) said Thursday that he expects to be sidelined until at least next week … John Buck came into Thursday's game with just three career triples in 1,956 plate appearances, but hit a pair of three-baggers while driving in five runs … According to manager Bob Geren, Eric Chavez's latest arm problems will likely land him on the disabled list with most of Oakland's other infielders … Kevin Youkilis (back) and J.D. Drew (quadriceps) rejoined the Red Sox's lineup Thursday, but combined to go 0-for-4 before matching early exits … Josh Beckett was knocked around by the Rays for seven runs Thursday and sports a 7.22 ERA with the Yankees up next … Howie Kendrick went 2-for-3 with a walk and two steals Thursday … Chris Getz (finger) and Jim Thome (heel) have been cleared to rejoin the White Sox's lineup Friday.

NL Quick Hits: Former general manager Jim Bowden revealed Thursday that the Nationals have decided to take San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 pick next month … According to manager Lou Piniella, Aramis Ramirez (calf) will avoid the disabled list after an MRI exam revealed inflammation … Max Scherzer tossed six shutout innings Thursday, but remains stuck on a 0-6 career record thanks to the bullpen coughing up the lead … Ryan Zimmerman homered Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 19 games … Joe Beimel (hip) is slated to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Friday at Single-A and once healthy will join the Nationals' closer-by-committee … Hiroki Kuroda (oblique) is expected to begin playing catch this weekend, but there's no timetable for his return … Chris Carpenter said Thursday that he no longer feels pain in his torn left oblique and hopes to begin playing catch next week.