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Forced to pitch for Orioles in 13th, rookie Jason Garcia comes through for first win

The Baltimore Sun
Jason Garcia's quick 13th inning could prove to be a step forward for the rookie.

There was a mass exodus from Camden Yards entering the 13th inning. Maybe it was because the clock had ticked past 11 p.m. or maybe it was because Orioles fans saw Rule 5 selection Jason Garcia entering the game.

Garcia, who was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list Aug. 6, hadn’t pitched in a week and had seriously struggled with his command this season. He entered Friday night with 12 walks in 14 2/3 innings and a 5.52 ERA.

The Orioles had refrained from using Garcia in high-leverage situations, only keeping him on the active roster so they didn’t have to send him back to the Boston Red Sox. But Friday presented a unique situation. Having already used six pitchers through 12 innings, Showalter was forced to call on Garcia.

“I’m not going to lie. I got out there, I was pretty nervous,” Garcia said.

But the 22-year-old didn’t show it. He threw strikes and the Oakland Athletics weren’t patient. Garcia induced three grounders on six pitches (five strikes) for a 1-2-3 inning.

He would go on to earn his first major league win in the 8-6 victory after third baseman Manny Machado sent a walk-off home run into the left-field stands. Garcia plans on sending the ball home to his parents.

“That one's going in a case," Garcia said.

It would’ve been an easy spot for Garcia to struggle with his command. After all, he had in games that weren’t close and now he was in the middle of a tie game as the Orioles are fighting for a playoff berth.

Closer Zach Britton, who blew the save in the ninth, commended the young reliever’s performance.  

“He had the best inning out of anybody today,” Britton said. “I think the more he gets out there, the more confidence that he is going to get that he can just throw strikes with his stuff and get guys out, so that was nice to see.”

-- As it has all season, the trio of Machado, Chris Davis and Adam Jones stole the show at the plate. The Orioles continue to struggle to find production at the bottom of the lineup, emphasizing the importance of big hits from the heart of the order.

The Orioles stars delivered with three home runs. It started with Jones, who continued his tear at the plate with his third long ball in four games, which also gave him 20 home runs for the fifth straight season.

“Jonesy had the key blow,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Jonesy, that was probably looking back at it as key a hit as we had, getting us back and getting some positive feelings back."

At the time, the Orioles were trailing 4-0 in the fifth inning and the offense appeared still deflated from being no-hit Wednesday. It set the stage for Davis two innings later, who gave the Orioles their first lead of the night with a bomb onto Eutaw Street.

Davis’ time in an Orioles uniform is likely limited with him set for free agency after the season. But for now, the Orioles are reaping the benefits of his 32-homer season at a time when power is starved around the league.

To polish it off, the youngest of the trio capped it with a laser to left field. If the Orioles are going to get into the playoffs, Machado, Jones and Davis are going to continue doing what they did Friday.

rbaillargeon@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RyanBaillargeon

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