He's been brilliant since, of course, until a blowout loss on Friday night -- again, against the A's. In 2 2/3 innings that required 80 pitches, Garland gave up seven runs and 10 hits, again, to the Angels' division rival at McAfee Coliseum in a 9-2 loss.
The night was disheartening for Garland, who allowed six runs in the third, for a myriad of reasons. Likewise, it was disappointing for the Angels, who have been riding a roller-coaster into the fast-approaching All-Star break.
The pitching staff that carried a 3.82 ERA into Friday's action has allowed 33 runs in the past five games. Angels starters have allowed a mind-numbing 25 hits in the past 8 1/3 innings.
The Angels are still tied for the second-best record in the Majors, but the club has dropped eight of its past 15 games.
To be sure, the sky isn't falling. Howie Kendrick's bat has been finding the ball rather often lately and even with the loss, Garland still has made quality starts in six of his past nine outings.
But at a time the Angels could use a boost, they instead were dealt a pair of blows.
Earlier in the day, general manager Tony Reagins said Kelvim Escobar, a 17-game winner in 2007, will miss the rest of the season because of a torn right labrum. A few hours later, the A's trimmed Anaheim's division lead to four games.
"Everything was up, everything," Garland said of his pitches. "I got ahead of guys, didn't put them away. Fell behind guys, started nit-picking. Just an overall bad game."
If that doesn't sum it up, the following numbers will.
In his previous start, Garland (8-6) threw a complete game (his first of the season), allowed six hits, one run and walked none. Friday, he didn't last nine outs, let alone nine innings. In the third frame alone, he threw 40 pitches -- or 20 per out.
The righty walked two and plunked one -- he had walked two total in his previous three starts. In those games, he had a 2.45 ERA over 22 innings.
Before the game started, manager Mike Scioscia talked about Garland's presence during the past two months. Filling in admirably for the injured Escobar, Garland had maintained a sub-3.00 ERA in 12 starts since his previous meltdown against Oakland.
"His velocity picked up, his command picked up, the sharpness of his breaking pitches picked up," Scioscia said. "He feels very, very comfortable in his delivery. He's pitching much better."
Perhaps Scioscia should have knocked on some wood before ending his pre-game monologue.
The Angels took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third when Chone Figgins tripled home Erick Aybar and Kotchman scored Figgins with a sacrifice fly, but Garland came undone in a blink.
He allowed eight of the first 10 A's batters to reach base before being replaced by Justin Speier. On his way off the mound, Garland had some choice words for the umpires, whom he thought were rushing his delivery.
"I was just a little upset [the umpires were] telling me to hurry up, yet [they were] letting every guy take their time in the box," Garland said.
That frustration alone, though, wasn't all that contributed to Garland's shortest start since Aug. 19, a game against Seattle in which he allowed 10 runs (five earned) and 10 hits.
"He had trouble putting some guys away," Scioscia said. "He just left some offspeed stuff that was up. He didn't get his feet on the ground."
Garland said it seemed like the A's knew which of his pitches were coming, which might explain why Oakland hammered him but fell mostly silent against the Angels' bullpen. Speier and Darren O'Day combined for 5 1/3 innings of two-run, five-hit relief.
In his past four appearances, O'Day hasn't allowed a run, including four innings of work on Friday.
Angels' relievers have pitched 13 1/3 innings in the past three games, so O'Day's performance "helps us certainly on the pitching side tomorrow," Scioscia said.
Another thing that might help would be some offense. A day after the Angels unloaded for 11 runs against Texas, the bats were mute against Oakland's newly acquired starter, Sean Gallagher (1-0). With just three hits, the Angels tallied just five total bases compared to Oakland's 21.
"He's got a live arm," Scioscia said of Gallagher.
About his own pitcher, the skipper was almost as succinct.
"He didn't seem like he was able to repeat pitches like we've seen," Scioscia said. "Just a tough start for Jon."
David Biderman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less