The last time Freddy Garcia started a postseason game came when he was earning a championship ring for the White Sox six years ago. While helping the White Sox to their first championship since 1917, Garcia pitched 21 innings while allowing five runs and 15 hits in three starts.
Back then, Garcia was a pitcher whose fastball averaged 91.4 and whose slider clocked in at 83.5. Since leaving the White Sox and then returning to them last year, his fastball velocity has dropped as has its usage.
Garcia used that pitch 30 percent of the time while winning 12 games for the White Sox last year. This year, it spiked up to 36 percent while being thrown at an average of 87.2.
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Six years ago also was the first time he extensively threw split-fingered fastballs, doing so 12.2 percent of the time for an average of 82 miles per hour. This year, he threw it a career high 22.4 percent. The pitcher whose fastball reached the mid-90s with the Mariners is a thing of the past.
“If I want to pitch in the big leagues, I have to do whatever, I can,” Garcia said. “I have to go there, sinker, backdoor slider slow curve. I throw anything that I locate and throw it for a strike every pitch,”
Garcia’s split-finger gradually evolved this year.
He threw it four percent of the time in April, but increased it to 8.9 percent in each of the next two months. After using it 10.3 percent of the time in July in August, he threw it 14.2 percent of the time in September.
Garcia’s only start against the Tigers was May 4 in Detroit. He pitched seven innings and allowed four runs and 10 hits. Those hits included a two-run home run by Magglio Ordonez on the two-seam fastball and an RBI double by Miguel Cabrera on a changeup.
Girardi finally commits to CC
After not confirming the fact before the game, Joe Girardi confirmed that CC Sabathia will be the Game Three starter Monday in Detroit against Justin Verlander.
Girardi had wanted to check with Sabathia, especially after he threw 27 pitches, plus several warm up tosses before the game and during the rain delay.
If there is a fourth game, A.J. Burnett will oppose New Jersey-native Rick Porcello Tuesday in Detroit.
Numbers game pitching against Cabrera
Rafael Soriano began warming up during the fifth inning of a one-run game. It was not because of Ivan Nova’s performance, but it seemed possible that numbers may have played a part with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez coming up.
Cabrera is 1-for-7 lifetime off Soriano while Martinez is hitless in three at-bats. But when the Yankees scored six times in the sixth, Soriano was not needed.
Cabrera was retired twice on Nova’s slider and Martinez was retired once on the same pitch before drawing a seventh-inning walk.
“I think I had everything today for me,” Nova said. “That’s the way I feel. I only threw one changeup, but everything for me was working fine.”
In Friday’s pregame press conference, Jim Leyland said he didn’t mind second-guessing because it meant people were discussing baseball.
After bringing in Al Alburquerque to face Robinson Cano, a move that resulted in a grand slam, Leyland did not believe he made the wrong decision. Leyland’s reasoning was based on Cano’s .320 batting average against left-handers and Alburquerque’s .177 batting average against lefties.
“Alburquerque has had a tremendous ratio of swings and misses,” Leyland said. “He had only faced him one time; he had struck him out. That wasn’t the reason for it. I felt that’s one of the reasons he’s been so valuable for us is he gets both righties and lefties out. He’s been tremendous, one of the best in all of baseball in swinging and missing. That’s the reason.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher for team coverage throughout the postseason.