Freddy Garcia got knocked around by the Red Sox on Tuesday, giving up four runs and lasting just 1 2/3 innings. It was by far his worst start of the season and, with what happened to Bartolo Colon on Saturday, the Yankees needed to see more of the old Garcia today.
No problem. Garcia was back to his old self, weaving in and out of trouble all afternoon as he pitched into the seventh. The most telling stat? Garcia didn’t allow a single hit with men on base all day (covering 12 plate appearances). That turned out be critical since Garcia also didn’t have a single clean 1-2-3 inning.
“His (splitter) was awesome today,” Russell Martin said. “That’s the difference between this start and last start. That’s his out pitch.”
According to Curtis Granderson – who has faced Garcia in the past and now plays behind him in center field – the key for Garcia is his deception. “I always looked at him as someone who is going to throw something hard,” Granderson said, pointing out that Garcia’s build makes him look like a big presence on the mound. “So you wait for it and then he almost never does. Then you sit soft, and he finally comes with something hard. It just keeps you off-balance.”
With Colon down for at least a few starts, the pressure on Garcia will increase. He says he doesn’t mind that, though, and is looking forward to walking off the mound to more of the type of ovations he got from the fans today.
“When you have a good outing, you get that,” he said. “When you pitch bad, they boo you. That’s how it is around here.”
• Derek Jeter hit two balls incredibly hard today, neither one of which ended up being one of his two hits. The rocket to center in the first and the long fly to right in the third both were caught, yet he dunked a single to right in the fifth and bounced a ball past a drawn-in infield in the eighth, bringing him to 2,993 hits for his career.
Of course, Jeter said he’s still not considering this to be “close” to 3,000.
“Unless we play a pretty long game, it’s still not a one-day thing,” he said. (It should be said: the record for most hits in a single game is seven.)
With four games left on the homestand, Jeter will need to stay productive if he hopes to reach the milestone at home – something his best friend on the team, Jorge Posada, is hoping happens.
“I hope he gets on a roll and does it at home,” Posada said. “I really want him to do it at home.”
• Posada, by the way, is no longer in possession of the lowest batting average among Yankee regulars. That now belongs to Nick Swisher, who is at .225 – one point behind Posada’s .226. A six-game hitting streak (the last five of which have been multi-hit efforts) has pushed Posada – 2-for-3 today – out of the Yankee cellar.
“I’m not doing anything different,” Posada said. “They’re just falling in.”
• Russell Martin looked “rusty” at the plate, according to Girardi, though Martin said his back was feeling better. “It’s still there a little bit,” Martin said, “but it’s something I can play with.” Martin was 0-for-4, grounded into two double plays and saw the Indians steal five bases (though, to be fair, Garcia has to take part of the blame because of a slow delivery). Girardi said he’s looking forward to seeing how Martin’s back responds tomorrow after a day back behind the plate.
• Lots of running for Brett Gardner today, who had two doubles, a triple and scored three times. On the triple, Gardner said he wasn’t sure what it would be off the bat but once he hit first base and saw both the left and center fielders with their backs to him, he knew he could make third. On the double that seemed to be right at Cleveland right fielder Shin-soo Choo? “I think he lost it,” Gardner said. “I wasn’t thinking double off the bat.” Either way, that’s how the Yankees want to see Gardner using his speed.
• Curtis Granderson was 4-for-4 with 2 RBI and has now driven in a run in four straight games.
• As a team, the Yankees are now nine games over .500 (matching their season-high) and have not trailed at any point in this series. Their 18 hits today is the most since May 31, 2010 (also against Cleveland) and they’ve combined for 33 hits in their last two games.
* That’s an AP shot from today.