Even before Freddy Garcia walked out to the mound and stepped on the rubber, the Yankees had already wrapped up a spot the postseason. But Garcia hadn’t secured a spot in the postseason rotation. He might have done that this afternoon.
“What he did today is what he’s been doing most of the year for us,” Joe Girardi said. “… Freddy’s a guy that’s been there and done all that. As we move forward we’ll continue to look at all those things, but today he pitched great.”
Garcia struggled in his first two games this month, and a couple of bad pitches really hurt him last weekend in Toronto, but today was vintage Garcia. He gave up five hits, but all were singles. He struck out only three, but also walked just one. He gave the Yankees six innings, and he beat the Red Sox, and none of the other third-start candidates has been especially impressive lately.
“I needed to pitch good today because my last three starts I was a little bit struggling,” Garcia said. “I did it. I’m really happy about it, and now I’m looking forward to my next start. I don’t know when, but hopefully I’ll be in the playoffs.”
Girardi said he likes that Garcia mixes his pitches. He likes that Garcia gives a different look than the other Yankees starters. And he likes that Garcia’s been to the playoffs before. Garcia has a 3.11 ERA in 55 postseason innings.
“I’ve been there before and I’ve been successful,” Garcia said. “Hopefully they give me the ball and I’ll be there to pitch. That’s what I do… I always like to prove people wrong. I like that. I like a challenge. If they give me a chance to start the game, I’ll be there.”
Jesus Montero’s first big league at-bat came with the bases loaded against Jon Lester, and he struck out. Montero’s first at-bat this afternoon was in the same situation, and Montero singled in the first run of the game. It was the start of a 3-for-4 day that included four RBI and Montero’s fourth home run of the season.
Girardi: “I actually thought he had a pretty good at-bat that day (in his debut). I thought he fouled off some pitches and just missed some pitches. He had the one swing that he swung at over his head, his first pitch. I can completely understand that. First day in the big leagues. At Fenway. Bases loaded. Against Jon Lester. I wouldn’t have thought anything if he swung at three balls over his head, I just wouldn’t have. As that day went on, I thought his at-bats were pretty good. We have seen consistent at-bats against left-handers, there’s no doubt about it.”
Montero: “I was remembering the first time, he was on the mound in Boston. I was like, wow, this is a movie again, or something like that? I have him again with three men on base? You get kind of nervous, I get a little nervous in that moment, but I got the base-hit, thank God.”
• The pregame ceremony honoring Roger Maris was really nice. One thing about the Yankees, when they bring out their legends, they aren’t messing around. Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford always bring the house down. And one of the Maris boys looks just like his father.
• This was the first time the Yankees had beaten the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium this season. They are 5-11 against Boston this season.
• After scoring eight runs in the first three innings, the Yankees had just one hit — Montero’s home run — from the fourth inning to the end of the game.
• Today was Garcia’s first scoreless start since July 20. It was his fourth scoreless start of the season, and he’s allowed four earned runs or less in 22 of his 25 starts. He’s 6-2 with a 3.20 ERA in day games.
• Girardi said he’s not sure what Garcia will do next, but he could throw a sim game to keep himself on his routine and sharp for a playoff appearance.
• Girardi still has no next step for Phil Hughes, but Girardi is confident that Hughes came through today’s bullpen just fine. Girardi said it’s “possible” Hughes will start one of the games in Tampa. Earlier, it seemed like Hughes would definitely get one of those starts. Could be that the Yankees want him to work out of the bullpen if that’s going to be his postseason role, but Girardi didn’t commit one way or the other.
• Derek Jeter has a hit in 18 of his past 20 games. He homered on a fastball and has now driven in a run in five of his past nine games against Boston. He’s hitting .332 since coming off the disabled list, and he’s hitting .400 against lefties since coming off the DL.
• Montero is the first Yankees rookie to have four RBI in a game against Boston since Brett Gardner drove in four runs on September 26, 2008 at Fenway.
• According to ESPN Stats and Info: Montero is the fifth Yankee with four or more home runs in his first 15 Major League games. The rest of the list: Shelley Duncan, Oscar Azocar, Kevin Maas and Steve Whitaker.
• Montero on driving the ball to right field: “All the time my approach is to right field, trying to hit the ball to right field all the time. Sometimes it’s not going to happen, but I’m thinking that way because that’s the way I learned to hit in the Yankees (organization). That’s the way they pitch me. Every time I go to bat, that’s the way I think.”
• Maybe Russell Martin shouldn’t hate the Red Sox so much. He has 10 RBI in 11 games against Boston this season, his highest RBI total against any team in 2011. His three home runs against Boston are also his most against any team.
• The Yankees announced an attendance of 49,556, the highest for any regular-season game at the current Yankee Stadium. Today’s number broke the previous record by exactly one person.
Assocaited Press photos