Freddy Garcia turns back the clock to lead Os past Nats
BALTIMORE – After watching eight balls fly out of Oriole Park a night before, Freddy Garcia could be excused for thinking it might happen again.
It never happened.
On a warm night, Garcia pitched eight innings for the first time since Sept. 20, 2009, and allowed just three singles to the Nationals as the Orioles took the third of four games between the teams.
The Orioles 2-0 win over the Nationals before 30,655 was assuredly different than Wednesday’s night’s thriller, but just as exciting.
Garcia, who was signed to a minor league contract by the Orioles just two months ago, showed why he’s won 154 major league games, the 10th most of any active pitcher.
"He had everything available to him,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“He didn't elevate many balls, and when he did, he did it on purpose just to change the eye level and the release point. Seeing balls come out of the same window. One stays up and one goes down. Makes it tough. He had a good tempo for him. Kind of fit in there nice."
In his previous five starts, Garcia (2-2) pitched into the seventh inning only in the first one when he pitched six no-hit innings against the Angels.
In this game, he allowed singles to Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond to start the second, but then retired 14 straight Nationals (27-27) batters until the Roger Bernadina singled with two outs in the sixth. He retired the final seven batters he faced.
Showalter thought about taking him out after seven.
“I was so careful about changing the karma of the game. There was just a vibe in that game that he fits into,” Showalter said.
“I considered running him out there in the ninth. He's not going to sweat any more than he already is. Man, he had a great lather going tonight. I think he changed shirts two or three times. He wears a 54 jersey. That's a big shirt, more room to sweat in.”
Garcia struck out six and didn’t walk any, and Jim Johnson pitched a perfect ninth for the second consecutive night, picking up his 17th save.
“They’d been hitting the ball real good last couple days. It’s hot here in Baltimore and the ball flies, so you got to keep it down,” Garcia said.
He naturally prefers warm weather.
“I’m from Venezuela so, you know, of course,” Garcia said.
Garcia was considered merely a placeholder, someone to pitch until a younger, more effective candidate was found. For now, that guy is the 36-year-old Garcia.
“They bring me here to pitch innings and I try to do the best I can, man. Four years ago I pitched eight innings, you know, I don’t really remember, but you’ve got to go out there and pitch the best I can,” Garcia said.
Nick Markakis, who faced Garcia for several years is relieved he no longer has to.
“He was getting ahead of the batters. He was making them chase his pitches. Being his teammate now, I think that’s the best I’ve seen him throw. He kept the ball down in the zone. He made him chase his pitches, and he got outs,” Markakis said.
The Orioles (30-24) scored one run off Dan Haren (4-6) in the third. Ryan Flaherty led off the third with a single. After two were out, Manny Machado singled and Nick Markakis hit a double to right, scoring Flaherty with the first run.
In the eighth, Haren gave up a double to right by Nate McLouth, who’s now 7-for-12. Machado followed with a double over third base, and the Orioles had a 2-0 lead.
Haren allowed two runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings.
The Orioles have taken seven of 10 games from the Nationals (27-27) over the past two seasons, and lead the series 26-20. They’ve lost just one season series between the teams, in 2007.
“Taking three out of four from anybody is fun, no matter who it is. They’ve got a great ballclub over there. We know that. It was big to win the series,” Markakis said.
Showalter says he enjoys the series.
“I am a fan, a big fan of Baltimore. I think it's great for our organization and our franchise and more importantly, our fans. When you have that type of support, you want to do something that makes them want to come back and be a big part for us,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Detroit comes to Baltimore for a three-game series starting on Friday. Miguel Gonzalez (2-2, 3.94) faces Max Scherzer (7-0, 3.42).
-Chanda Brigance, wife of former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance, threw out the first pitch to raise awareness for ALS research. O.J. Brigance, who’s suffering from the disease, accompanied his wife.