Freddy Garcia was anxious to make his regular season debut as a New York Yankee---after two straight rain-outs---and he made the most of it today. Garcia was magnificent in a six-inning effort as the Yankees defeated the Texas Rangers, 5-2.
It was the first time Garcia started a game in 18 days. His last start was in spring training and he had a one-inning stint in relief against Boston last week.
It was a cold and dreary day at Yankee Stadium but Garcia finally got his chance to shine. The righthander was nearly flawless as he mowed down 18 of the 21 Texas batters he faced. He allowed two hits and no runs with one strikeout in between the light rain showers.
Manager Joe Girardi had nothing but smiles after defeating the defending AL champs and lots of praise for his starting pitcher.
"He did a great job keeping men off balance," said Girardi. "It was an outstanding job."
The Yankees have to be elated that Garcia was able throw six efficient innings after the long lay-off.
Girardi didn't think Garcia's tank was empty when he pulled him from the game.
"If he had a couple of starts before, I would have let him go further," the manager confessed after the game. "His fastball was up to 89 [mph]."
Garcia's gem couldn't have come at a better time for the Yankees. The bottom of the starting rotation has been a disappointment and, with Phil Hughes going to the DL with "dead arm" and and Bartolo Colon coming from the bullpen as his temporary replacement, many questions still remain.
Garcia got a little help from Mark Teixeira, who seems to have broken out of his slump, and hit a home-run and knocked in 3 runs.
Rafael Soriano continued his up-and-down relief efforts and gave the Yankees a scare after giving up a couple of runs on three hits.
A bigger concern might be Alex Rodriguez's back. The third baseman left the game in the seventh inning after complaining of "stiffness" in his lower back oblique muscle. Girardi said no tests were being planned and put Eric Chavez in as his replacement. A-Rod is batting .385 with 4 home-runs and 9 RBI's in 12 games.
Mariano Rivera got his sixth save out of the team's eight wins. This is the fastest the closer has ever gotten save #6 in a season and #614 for his career.
The Yankees may have gotten more than they asked for out of Garcia in his role as the fifth starter. Garcia, himself, only asked to have Gustavo Molina as his battery-mate.
"I found a way to make it happen," said Garcia. "[Molina] helped me make pitches when I needed it."
Garcia, who won 12 games last year with the White Sox, is now 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA.