When Freddy Garcia agreed to a minor league deal this winter, the expectation was that he would eventually fall apart. Sure, he’d won some games with Chicago last year, but he was clearly beyond his prime, and clearly a signing based more on heavy desperation than high expectation.
But here we are, about to flip the calendar to September, and Garcia just keeps getting it done. It’s not flashy — he really is a different pitcher than he used to be — but it’s effective. He hadn’t pitched in a big league game since August 7, but there were no signs of rust. He gave up two hits through six innings and picked up his 11th win.
“That’s as good as it gets,” Joe Girardi said. “He hung one slider to Mark Reynolds and gave us six great innings. I would have signed up for that if someone had asked me what we’d get from him tonight. He was excellent tonight. He knows how to pitch.”
The tendency is to be … what’s the word? Shocked? Surprised? Impressed?
Garcia seems … indifferent. He shrugs off the extra rest without any rust. He shrugs off being 11-7 with a 3.09 ERA. He laughs at the notion that he should have any sort of reaction to keeping his spot in the rotation.
“Of course, I have to be happy,” he said. “I wasn’t pitching for almost three weeks, something like that, but I’m glad to do my job and get a win. We need it… I just try to do my job. Go there and do the best I can. When I pitch bad, I pitch bad. I know most guys, excuse. Go out there and perform. If I pitch good, I pitch good. If I pitch bad, I pitch bad. Nothing I can do. Always, if I’ve got a bad start, I have to put away the bad and think about my next one. I’ve got to be really positive about it.”
The Yankees are planning to cut their rotation from six to five at the end of this week. Joe Girardi has committed to no one being locked into a spot, but he did it tonight.
Will Garcia start again in five days?
“Oh yeah,” Girardi said.
• Nick Swisher has become a beast. His two-run home run tonight was his sixth homer in seven games. He’s up to 21 for the season. “Once you get that groove, you want to continue to keep it,” he said. “That’s all I’m really trying to do right now.”
• Mark Teixeira’s RBI double in the first inning gave him 100 RBI for the season. He now has 30 homers and 100 RBI in eight straight seasons. He’s the only Major Leaguer to have done that in the past eight years. “He’s just a model of consistency,” Girardi said. “You know when the season starts that you’re going to get 30 and 100 from Tex. That’s great as a manager and as an organization to be able to pencil that in.”
• Curtis Granderson keeps scoring runs. Tonight he scored from first on Teixeira’s double, giving him 122 runs for the season. That matches a career-high for Granderson. He still leads baseball in the category, by a lot.
• Derek Jeter said his sore right knee feels considerably better than it did at this time last night. He expects to play tomorrow. “I hope so,” he said. “That’s the plan, but I haven’t done anything. We’ll see when we get there tomorrow.”
• Jeter said he believes he’ll be able to play shortstop. If he’s healthy enough to play, he’s healthy enough to play the field. He had his knee heavily wrapped yesterday, only moderately today.
• It wasn’t a perfect three innings for the Soriano-Robertson-Rivera trio, but it was good enough. Dave Robertson gave up his first home run of the season — snapping a streak of 68.2 innings without a homer — but those three still kept the slim lead intact. Rafael Soriano had an especially dominant inning. “Velocity was great, location was great,” Girardi said. “He’s a big part of this for us.”
• Speaking of homerless streaks ending: The home run Garcia allowed was his first after 69 innings without one.
• The J.J. Hardy home run off Robertson was also the first run Robertson had allowed on the road this year.
• The Orioles had not allowed a stolen base in seven games, but Brett Gardner stole one in the fifth inning. Gardner is up to 38 steals for the season.
Associated Press photos