Luis Garcia’s uncertain status gives the Red Sox a pitching advantage
Four. That’s how many pitches it took for Houston Astros starter Luis Garcia to walk Boston Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki to begin the top of the second inning. And after walking two batters in the top of the first and surrendering a grand slam to JD Martinez, it was clear to Astros skipper Dusty Baker that something was wrong with his pitcher. And so after throwing only 33 pitches and retiring three batters, the Astros Game 2 starter departed with his team trailing 4-0.
At first it seemed like a nefarious ploy by a seasoned manager. Who could blame Red Sox fans for thinking so? Garcia had shown no command over any of his pitches in the brief time he had been on the mound. The Red Sox grabbed an early 4-0 lead in an important game at home. The game was getting out of hand and no one was warming in the Astros bullpen. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to fake an injury to get the struggling Garcia out of the game and give the poor soul who would be summoned from the pen to do some mop-up work plenty of time to warm up.
But alas, this was not the case. Garcia had been pitching injured in Game 2. It was revealed after the game that Garcia had been pitching on a bad knee that had been lingering for an extended period of time and was aggravated even more during his start. The most surprising revelation however came from Dusty Baker, who revealed that Garcia had hidden the injury from the team.
"“It came to our knowledge that this had kind of been bothering him a little bit on and off, but he hadn’t said anything about it,” said Baker."
Now because of Garcia’s decision to pitch on that bad ankle, the Astros may be without one of their starters for the rest of this series.
This would be a big blow to the Astros as they had already lost ace Lance McCullers prior to the series. With scheduled Game 4 starter Jake Odorizzi having to perform mop-up duty in Game 2, throwing 82 pitches over four innings, and Zack Greinke still not available, the Astros find themselves in a tough situation pitching wise.
The Red Sox certainly have their fair share of question marks on the pitching side as well. They only have one starter they can count on to give them at least five innings in Nathan Eovaldi, whereas with Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez it is a game of Russian roulette every time they step out onto the mound. You don’t know what you are going to get.
However, what they the Red Sox have that the Astros do not is experience. Between Sale, Eovaldi, Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta, the Red Sox have 90.6 innings of playoff experience.
The Rays had the superior starting pitching staff in the ALDS, but it was made up of young pitchers with little to no playoff experience which the Red Sox exploited to win the series. Experience was the deciding factor and it could very well be it again here in the American League Championship series.