Commentary

Freddy Garcia is Sunday's best bet

Yanks wise not to start CC Sabathia in Game 2 after his two-inning stint on Friday

Updated: October 2, 2011, 2:59 AM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Freddy Garcia was the right choice to pitch Game 2 of the American League Division Series after the suspension of Game 1 washed away CC Sabathia's start.

There was talk, if not hope, that Sabathia might lobby and persuade New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi to allow him to pitch Game 2 against the Detroit Tigers. But Girardi nixed his ace's wishes.

"He's only going to start one more game anyway," Girardi said of Sabathia, who pitched just two innings, striking out four, before rain suspended play Friday night. "So I would rather have him rested than maybe a little bit fatigued."

[+] EnlargeFreddy Garcia
AP Photo/Kathy KmonicekFreddy Garcia looks forward to his first playoff start since the 2005 World Series.

So in steps Garcia, a 13-year veteran with valuable postseason experience.

Granted, Garcia and the Yankees have some breathing room after a 9-3, suitable-for-framing victory in the resumed Game 1 at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night. The Yankees have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series; Game 2 is Sunday at 3:07 p.m.

But Game 2 is still big. The Tigers came here with the hopes of stealing at least one game, giving them a chance to win the series without returning to the Big Apple. It happened the last time these teams met in the postseason, in 2006.

It's up to Garcia to make sure the Yankees leave for Detroit with a 2-0 series lead. Garcia, 34, is 6-2 with a 3.11 ERA in nine career postseason starts, and he threw seven scoreless innings in a World Series-clinching Game 4 victory for the White Sox in 2005.

"For me, I got to go one pitch at a time," Garcia said. "I cannot live in the past, when I threw hard and whatever.

"I have to live with what I got right now and go with my plans. If I do that, I can be successful. So that's what I want to do, one pitch at a time and do the best I can."

The myth in baseball is that you have to throw hard, be a power pitcher to win in the postseason. Garcia never bought into it. He has mastered the art of simply getting guys out.

"I never think about whatever people say," said Garcia, who has a lifetime record of 145-95. "I got to live, like I said before, with what I got.

"How many pitchers you know throw hard and they don't get people out in the postseason, the regular season? So for me, I got to go out there and be myself and get those outs."

Garcia's storyline is a great one. It appeared as if his career was over. He came to Yankees on a minor league invite. No one, not even the Yankees, could have imagined that he would pitch well enough to get a postseason start.

"I came to spring training to try to make the team," said Garcia, who was 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA in the regular season. "I'm glad I did it."

Garcia knows some of the Tigers' hitters. He had a cup of coffee and a sweet roll in Motown, going 1-1 in three starts in 2008.

This is the first time Garcia has been in the postseason in six years. He said he's ready for the challenge. "It's been a long time," he said. "You always remember good times, when I pitched in '05. I'm ready to pitch, man. I'm going to show up and do my best."

Exactly what the Yankees need to take control of this series.

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