LOS ANGELES -- A day earlier, it seemed Jaime Garcia wouldn't be pitching on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. It was even less likely that he would be hitting a grand slam en route to a 12-3 win over the MLB-best Dodgers.Instead, the 31-year-old veteran was rumored to be headed
LOS ANGELES -- A day earlier, it seemed Jaime Garcia wouldn't be pitching on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. It was even less likely that he would be hitting a grand slam en route to a 12-3 win over the MLB-best Dodgers.
Instead, the 31-year-old veteran was rumored to be headed to Minnesota to help bolster the Twins' rotation as they made a run for the American League Central crown, but those trade talks stalled and the Braves sent their trade chip to the mound to face a red-hot Dodgers squad.
Garcia (4-7, 4.30 ERA) shook off the trade speculation to not only produce on the mound, throwing seven innings of three-run ball on 91 pitches (59 strikes), but he also provided himself some extra run support. In the fifth inning, the lefty smashed his third career homer, a grand slam, on a two-out, 0-2 pitch against former Braves lefty Alex Wood, as Atlanta cruised.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
"I was aware of the stuff that was going on," Garcia said of the trade talk. "Family members and friends reaching out. I knew I was facing the Dodgers tonight, and last night when I went home my focus was 100 percent getting ready for this start."
Garcia's bat helped send Wood to his first loss of the season after he started the year 11-0. Garcia, who has one year left on his contract and is owed approximately $5 million, is considered one of the best rentals left on the trade market.
If it was Garcia's last start in a Braves uniform, the southpaw put together his second straight solid outing and put his name in the club's history books. Garcia became the first Braves pitcher to hit a grand slam since Tony Cloninger hit two on July 3, 1966, at San Francisco and is the third pitcher to hit a grand slam on an 0-2 pitch dating back to 1930. The others were the Brewers' Shaun Marcum in 2011 and the Phillies' Art Mahaffey in 1962.
"I usually don't smile a lot, but that was pretty unbelievable," Garcia said. "I never hit a grand slam in my life even when I was in Little League. That was pretty cool."
Garcia is just the fourth Atlanta pitcher (sixth overall) to drive in at least four runs in a game and the first to do so since Phil Niekro on Sept. 26, 1979.
"How about that," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said of Garcia's moonshot. "I was at second, and I was like 'Man that sounded really good' you just really don't expect it, especially here [Dodger Stadium] at night. He did a great job of battling in that at-bat too. When a pitcher is in that spot, they're down 0-2, just kind of wave at it and get it over with, but he was grinding and got rewarded for that."
On the mound, Garcia had little trouble against the Dodgers' lineup, retiring the side in order four times and using his slider and fastball to induce 11 groundouts.
"When he's not walking guys," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "And getting that ball in the strike zone, he's tough to hit at."
What the future holds for Garcia remains to be determined, but for now, he's reveling in the moment.
"I really don't pay attention to things that are out of my control," Garcia said. "I don't have any social media, I don't read anything that's said about me ... But I'm an Atlanta Brave and I'm excited that I'm still here."
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.