Garcia gets first W, provides quality outings
The win has gone out of fashion as a means to evaluate performance, but still, for every starting pitcher, there’s nothing like the first.
Luis Garcia notched his first career victory in Saturday's 6-5 win over the Rangers at Minute Maid Park, allowing one run across five innings with five strikeouts, continuing to provide Houston's depleted staff with quality outings.
“Super happy about that,” said third baseman Alex Bregman. “He’s been outstanding. Really just a competitor, hard worker, great teammate. It’s an honor to be on his team.”
Garcia’s velocity was noticeably down against Texas; his fastball was down from 93.2 mph to 92.2 mph, while his cutter was down from 86.1 mph to 84.6 mph. While Garcia didn't have his best stuff, catcher Martín Maldonado guided the rookie through five innings and, by extension, to his first win.
“You gotta give Maldy a lot of credit for that,” said manager Dusty Baker. “Maldy saw him through that fifth inning. We didn’t know he was going to get through that fifth inning. Usually around that 80-pitch mark is when he falters. Maldy called some big changeups, called some cutters, he’s mixing it up. That was big for him to get through the fifth inning.”
Garcia has been invaluable for Houston’s starting rotation with Framber Valdez, Jake Odorizzi and Cristian Javier and José Urquidy all having missed time. In his last four starts, Garcia has allowed eight runs across 20 innings (3.60 ERA) with 26 strikeouts to six walks.
As good as Garcia has been to begin the season, his role could once again change if the aforementioned starters all return to full strength. Garcia has been used as a long reliver twice this season, a role he could potentially return to depending on circumstances.
“I’m just trying to do whatever job it is that the manager gives, whether that’s opening as a starter or as a reliever,” Garcia said through an interpreter. “I don’t know if I'm going to stay in the rotation or not. I just know that whatever the manager asks for me, that’s the job I’ll try and do.”
Urquidy to the IL; Paredes activated
Urquidy (shoulder) was placed on the 10-day IL retroactive to May 13, and Enoli Paredes was recalled from Double-A Round Rock, the team announced Sunday.
Urquidy left in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s start against the Angels after the velocity on his fastball and curveball suddenly dipped. Baker said Urquidy is “doing great” and is expected to throw early next week.
Paredes, who was placed on the injured list on April 9, revealed that he suffered an oblique injury, which took two to three weeks to fully heal. The right-hander said the injury limited his ability to throw breaking balls with intensity.
Paredes was dominant in his rehab work for Double-A Corpus Christi, yielding no runs across five innings with nine strikeouts to one walk.
Tucker vs. the West
If there’s one batter who pitchers in the AL West haven’t enjoyed seeing this season, it’s Kyle Tucker. Entering Sunday, Tucker has more homers (eight) and RBIs (22) than any other player against his intra-division foes.
Tucker, who’s currently riding a seven-game hitting streak, padded those numbers on Saturday, smacking a two-run homer against the Rangers that was ultimately the difference. The right-fielder tormented the Angels earlier in the week as well, homering on Tuesday and Wednesday against the divisional foe.
“The more often you face teams, the more often you see the same pitchers over and over,” Tucker said. “I think that’s a benefit for hitters when you’re seeing an arm multiple times, even if it’s over the course of a series or the same week or two.”