Garcia gives Astros relief outing of a lifetime in G3

October 19th, 2022

SEATTLE -- When thinking about the performance of his bullpen in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Astros manager Dusty Baker recalled the 2000 NLDS, when he was the manager of the Giants facing the Mets.

That night, he said, the Giants eventually ran out of pitching in the 13-inning game, which ended in a Mets walk-off.

“That’s a terrible feeling to run out of pitching,” Baker said. 

On Saturday, Baker didn’t have to worry about running out of pitching again thanks to Astros starter Luis Garcia, who tossed the final five innings out of the bullpen in Houston’s 18-inning marathon win over Seattle to advance to the club’s sixth straight American League Championship Series.

The right-hander allowed two just hits and logged six strikeouts, while pitching the equivalent of a normal start of the Astros’ 1-0 win at T-Mobile Park.

“I was trying to stay in the game as it was going,” Garcia said. “So I was trying to go pitch by pitch, out by out, inning by inning, and I'm really happy that I did the work that the team needed. Watching the bullpen going in, the guys are doing a really good job and I'm really proud of them. And I think I'm there to help them, too. So I was just trying to help. And [José] Urquidy, too. He will help when he has the chance. So we were all just trying to help the team to win.”

With the Astros and Mariners locked in a 0-0 stalemate, Garcia entered the game in the 14th inning after not making a relief appearance through the entire regular season. He last appeared in any game on Oct. 2 against the Rays. 

Garcia’s availability out of the bullpen emphasizes the advantage the Astros have in postseason play. By the time the entire rotation was healthy, the 25-year-old was rounding out the back end of a seven-man rotation.

“We had some innings in the tank, so to speak, and [Garcia] was great,” Baker said. “To pitch extra innings like that, I mean, that was a start for him. When a guy comes out of the bullpen and he can go five innings or more, and then you got another guy, it's a very secure feeling when you know that you have innings and you have quality in your bullpen.”

Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr., Garcia and six other relievers combined for the 18-inning shutout, which was also the first game in postseason history to remain scoreless through 17 innings.

“Every guy you run out there has plus-plus stuff, has big game experience and has been there, done that,” McCullers said of the bullpen. “Like I said, Luis, I don't think there’s another guy in all of baseball who could have come out of the ‘pen and done what he did tonight. It was just amazing, what he was able to do.”

"Luis, what he did at the end was one of the best pitching performances I’ve seen in the playoffs," ace Justin Verlander added.