Depleted Detroit no match for Garza

There is no dissing a no-hitter.

Matt Garza threw the first no-no in the Rays’ 13-year history Monday night. That’s a big deal, regardless of the opponent, the state of the opponent or the fact that no-hitters this season are more common than steroid suspensions — which, come to think of it, might not be a coincidence.

Still, watching Garza plow through the Tigers, I couldn’t help but think: The olde English “D” now stands for “depleted” in addition to “Detroit.”

Brandon Inge, out. Magglio Ordonez, out. Carlos Guillen, out. The great Miguel Cabrera remains. But Austin Jackson and Johnny Damon, while hot in July, have combined for only seven homers. Barring a trade in the next five days, the Tigers will continue to look a lot like the Red Sox have of late, which is to say, barely recognizable.

Again, there is no diminishing Garza’s achievement He had been wildly inconsistent in recent weeks, posting a 5.47 ERA since June 1, twice allowing seven runs in a start. He also had never beaten the Tigers, going 0-4 with a 5.85 career ERA against them in six career starts.

The Rays, who inexplicably have been no-hit three times in the past 12 months, were due for such a breakthrough. Garza’s stuff is so good, he’s one of those pitchers who seems capable of throwing a no-hitter at any time. The Rays’ defense is so good, no-hitters occasionally seem possible even when the starting pitcher is having an off-night.

Ben Zobrist, playing right field, came up with the defensive play of the night, leaping to grab a two-out shot by Danny Worth that appeared to be going over his head in the third inning. But that pretty much was the Tigers’ best bolt. The final sequence was telling: The light-hitting Ramon Santiago, the first pinch “hitter” off the Tigers’ bench, flied weakly to right.

Cabrera, who began the night first in the AL in slugging, second in batting average and on-base percentage, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Rookie Brennan Boesch, the hitter behind Cabrera, went 0-for-2 with the Tigers’ only walk, extending his 2-for-27 slump.

Now get a load of the rest of the Tigers’ lineup besides Jackson and Damon:

• Batting second, Will Rhymes. Entered the game with four major-league at-bats.

• Batting sixth, Ryan Raburn. Hitting .204.

• Batting seventh, Don Kelly. Hitting .206.

• Batting eighth, Gerald Laird. Hitting .182.

• Batting ninth, Worth. Entered the game with 100 career plate appearances.

The Tigers are not going to quit. Manager Jim Leyland, who was ejected in the third inning, will keep pushing, trying to max out with his limited talent. But one thing is clear: One hitter, even if it’s Adam Dunn, can’t save the Tigers. One pitcher, even if it’s Ted Lilly, will help only so much.

This was a no-hitter, all right, but it also was a harrowing glimpse of a Tigers club that appears ready to expire.

We’ll remember July 26, 2010 as a night Matt Garza made history, and that is what matters most. But in Detroit, fans will not simply bemoan that the Tigers caught Garza on the wrong night. They will wonder if, after such a stirring start to their season, Monday marked the beginning of the end.