By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
7:00 AM EDT, May 31, 2013
Orioles’ right-hander Freddy Garcia isn’t going to throw eight scoreless innings every time out like he did Thursday night against the Washington Nationals in the Orioles’ 2-0 win.
In fact, he hasn’t done that since Sept. 19, 2006 when he was with the Chicago White Sox. That’s nearly seven years ago. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was 14 back then.
So Garcia isn’t going to make a habit of pitching that deep into games, we know that. But when he is mixing his pitches effectively and keeping them low in the strike zone, the 36-year-old can still be victorious. He’s now thrown at least six innings in four of his six starts.
I don’t know how long Garcia will last in Baltimore, maybe a month more, maybe all season. But his presence is a good thing. Because the club’s other pitchers can learn plenty from Garcia, once a fireballer and now a crafty righty.
Work quickly, mix your pitches, throw strikes, let your defense do the work.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter admits that on Thursday he checked whether pitching prospect Kevin Gausman was watching Garcia.
"A couple times I looked down and Gausman was watching intently him pitching. That's a good exposure,” Showalter said.
With the two-game sweep, the Orioles are now 30-24. That’s the same record they had through 54 games last season. They are currently in third place, 2 ½ games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. Last year, through 54 games, they were in second place, one game out of first.
Back then, we were all waiting for the team to fall apart and go away – that was recent history after all. This year, I think the sense is this team will be hanging around for a while.
With a win Friday, the Orioles will have another winning month, at 15-13 in May, the same as in 2012. At the very least, they will finish this month at .500 – meaning the Orioles have had only one losing month (last July) dating back to Sept. 2011. That’s seven winning months, one .500 month and one losing month (not counting a 1-2 record in three, regular season October games to end last year).
Raise your hand if you realized they had been that consistent for the past year-plus?
I’m not a big fan of this whole “regional rivalry” stuff, because I think it’s a creation and not reality. Good teams battling for supremacy is what builds rivalries.
That said, there’s no question that the past four games between the Orioles and Nationals were energized. The four-game series (two in DC, two in Baltimore) drew 146,708 – an average of 36,677. That’s particularly impressive when you factor in the games were played Monday through Thursday before most schools let out (although Monday was a holiday, and a sellout at Nationals Park).
Last year’s September (and October) baseball was electric in both parks. And, if these teams remain in contention, it could be like that all summer in the Mid-Atlantic region. Would be cool to see.
I made this point on Twitter Thursday night and it was retweeted by a ton of people (for what that is worth). One of the reasons I love baseball is the sport’s complete unpredictability. On Wednesday, the matchup between Jordan Zimmermann and Chris Tillman looked like a pitchers’ duel. And it was a slugfest, with 15 runs scored and eight homers hit.
On Thursday, the matchup between Dan Haren (5.43 ERA heading in) and Garcia (4.61) looked like it might be a slugfest. And two runs were scored.
It’s just impossible to explain. And I love that about sports – baseball in particular.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun