Some drunken conversation or email debate occurred between Smitty and I before the baseball season started about how the White Sox had the best 5th starter in baseball. Of course, I was arguing that “Sweaty” Freddy Garcia was by far the best fifth starter in baseball, and Smitty disagreed.
Smitty had a reason to doubt me since Garcia had such a horrible spring, but again it’s spring training. I watched Garcia closely at the end of last season, and watched his demeanor in spring training and it looked like he had his swagger back. Well, I think it’s safe to say that in his young season he does, and may be the difference maker in September.
Garcia has gone at least seven innings in three outings, six in two outings, and one terrible outing where he lasted only three innings and let up seven earned runs. If you take out the one blemish in Garcia’s six outings his era is a respectable 3.27 with allowing only 11 runs over 33 innings including holding AL Central nemesis the Minnesota Twins to only four runs over 14-innings.
Garcia’s dominating performance last night exposed the Twins a bit. Make your pitches to Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and the Twins pop is removed from the equation. While Mauer hit Garcia well, Garcia handles Morneau based on what Mauer did in his at-bat. Mauer hit a double with one out, pitch around Morneau, and deal with Michael Cuddyer. Garcia went right at Cuddyer, which led to a 0-4 night for Cuddyer including grounding into an inning ending double play. Take the pop out the equation and you can beat the Twins.
Garcia was able to relax and pitch his game because the Sox had two two-out doubles off the bat of Alexei Ramirez and AJ Pierzynski to stake the Sox to a 4-1 lead. The rejuvenated Andruw Jones added an RBI single and the Sox took a 5-1 lead in the fifth. ; That was all Garcia needed for the win.
With the left-handed part of the Twins line-up coming up in eight inning, Matt Thornton came on and shut them down. Bobby Jenks came in the ninth, which was a bit concerning based on his last two outings. He got an out, let up a double to pinch hitter, Jim Thome, and then retired the next two batters. Ozzie Guillen was not taking any chances as JJ Putz and rookie phenom, Sergio Santos warmed in the pen.
It was a good night for the White Sox at the new Target Field as they are perfect there at 1-0. A win this afternoon will give me some confidence that the Sox are going to make a run at the AL Central.