ST. PETERSBURG -- Kelly Shoppach caught Matt Garza's no-hitter Monday night. Many catchers view such an accomplishment almost as if they'd been the guy on the mound.
"I'm so proud to be a part of that, don't get that mistaken," Shoppach said. "But man, I didn't do anything. I returned the balls after he threw them."
Shoppach has had an interesting first season with the Rays after joining the team via a trade with the Indians in December. He broke up a no-hit bid by CC Sabathia on April 10 and Monday night he found himself behind the plate for a no-hitter.
Shoppach said he didn't think too much about either of the above during the moment, and he maintained that he did not feel any pressure about calling the wrong pitch Monday night.
"And the reason I say, 'No' is I never put down a finger if I don't believe I can get an out with it," Shoppach said. "Now, am I worried that that's the right finger? Sometimes. But for the most part I call it because I think we can get an out with it.
"I don't really set up pitches. I don't believe in that. As many guys who have gotten me out on three pitches, I ought to be able to get them out on three pitches."
Shoppach cited Garza's fastball command for making the biggest impact.
"He had a good fastball tonight," Shoppach said. "And ya'll know how much I like the fastball.
"I just feel like if you have command of your fastball you can do so much and you can be so creative. I heard that he threw 120 pitches, 101 fastballs. ... I just felt like so many guys he was beating with his fastball, because he was locating it in and out. When you do that, I think you have a chance to do something special."
Garza made a believer of Shoppach midway through the game.
"I actually started thinking about it in the fifth," Shoppach said. "I actually thought in the fifth, 'We've got a chance to do this.'"
According to Shoppach, Garza did not have any command of his breaking pitches early in the game.
"Not that we needed a whole lot of them, because he had great command of his fastball," Shoppach said. "As the game went on, as any game, you're going to have to throw some offspeed stuff. It was the nine-hole hitter, the second time through the lineup that we threw our first first-pitch offspeed.
"I thought that was the right time at that time. Just say it was a curve ball, just to say, 'Hey, 'OK, now we're going to start something maybe the rest of the lineup sees.'"
Shoppach corrected Garza, who said he'd thrown Miguel Cabrera a changeup in the eighth, when the Tigers slugger hit a hard smash to Carl Crawford in left field.
"Cabrera hit a heater in that Cabrera was waiting for, obviously, because he had beaten him with heaters in early in the game," Shoppach said. "Changeup [Cabrera] almost hit out to center field [in the fifth inning] for a homer was a changeup, that was probably, I thought, the one he should not have thrown and it worked out good.
"But throwing a no-hitter -- I've never caught one at the big league level. But I see on TV all the time, you need some luck. It just doesn't happen without luck."
Shoppach smiled when told that Garza said his mechanics were off Monday night.
"Ya'll know as well as anyone how weird he is," Shoppach said. "I mean he's a little bit in his own world. And you just try to reign in all of his energy and skills, because you never know mentally what you're going to get."
Apparently, reigning in Garza involved little to no conversation.
"I talked to him one time today, which is generally the case," Shoppach said. "I don't mess with guys in between innings unless they want to come up and talk about something. ... I talked to him one time in maybe the third or fourth inning about keeping his fastball down. Outside of that, after the eighth, we were at the water cooler at the same time. I said, 'Way to go.'"
Shoppach scoffed at the idea Garza did not know he had a no-hitter.
"He's so full of it," Shoppach said. "They're all full of it. They know in the first. They know in the second. They know in the third. They know in the fourth. These starting pitchers, they're a different breed.
"... These guys know when their toenails don't fit right in their shoes. They know what's going on when they're pitching. They might not know what's going on when they're not pitching, but they know every pitch when they're throwing."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.