The story of Freddy Garcia's first start of the season in Baltimore may have been control issues and wild pitches, but on Monday night for Garcia, it was about not being able to deliver the knockout blow. Twice in the game he had the Twins on the ropes with two outs in an inning, and twice the Twins offense responded.
In the first inning, Garcia got two outs then it was a Joe Mauer double, Josh Willingham RBI single, Justin Morneau single, followed by a Ryan Doumit RBI single, and just like that, it was 2-0 Twins.
Later in the game, in the fifth inning, with the Yankees now leading 3-2, Garcia once again got two outs, this time with Alexi Casilla stranded at second base and the flood gates opened up again. Jamey Carroll ripped an RBI single followed by another Mauer double, this one driving in Carroll and the Twins were back in business again. The knockout punch for Garcia came in the sixth as Morneau blasted his second home run of the year and his fifth at new Yankee Stadium to give the Twinkies a solid 5-3 lead at the time.
“You look at the first inning, he gets the two outs and Russell throws out the baserunner and then he proceeds to give up three or four straight base hits,” Girardi said after the game. “The one thing that we've seen Freddy be really good at is minimizing damage and making pitches when people are on base. He gave up a lot of two out runs today and that was the difference.”
Garcia, upset with his performance said, “We've got the lead 3-2, and they tied the game; you've got two outs, you've got to put it away no matter what.”
What makes this game even harder to deal with for the Yankees is that they have been through the rotation twice to this point and have only two quality starts to hang their hat on from their rotation. The length of Garcia's outing certainly didn't help a bullpen engulfed in a four-game set at home and traveling to Boston immediately for the weekend set.
Now there's pressure on CC Sabathia, who has not been great in his first two starts of the season -- allowing nine earned runs in just 12 innings -- to go out and be the stopper in Tuesday's game. Sabathia is a notoriously slow starter, but they will need him to put his April woes behind him.
“We do need to get some quality starts, so we don't have to go to them (bullpen) so much,” Girardi said. “There are days that you have guys down and your bullpen's limited and tomorrow would be a great day for CC to be able to do what he usually does.”
The rotation hasn't been able to put it all together at this point. With Andy Pettitte working his way to the Bronx and Michael Pineda making his way back from injury, the rotation may look much different in the near future. Both Garcia and Phil Hughes are still auditioning to be in the rotation for the long haul and both have not looked good up to this point. In 10.1 innings pitched this season for Garcia, he's already allowed eight earned runs for a 6.97 ERA and he's also given up 13 hits, which is a concern.
One thing is certain: Garcia wasn't as wild, and it seemed like he had much better control on Monday night.
“Today I felt way better than last start and hopefully next one will be better,” he said.
The Yankees hope he is right.