Cards left-hander Jaime Garcia was removed from the disabled list on Thursday, so he could be placed on the 25 man roster and make his first start in more than 11 months in the final contest of the four game series at Citi field between the Cardinals and the New York Mets.
The oft injured pitcher has not pitched a complete season since 2011, his second year in the major leagues. He was on the DL twice during the 2014 season, from March 21-May 17 and again from June 21 through the remainder of the season after undergoing neurogenic thoracic surgery. In 2013, surgery on his left shoulder kept him on the disabled list from May 18 through the rest of the season. In the previous season, 2012, the lefty was out of action from June 6-August 18 with left shoulder strain.
The native of Reynosa, Mexico, won 13 games in each of his first two seasons in the majors, 2010 and 2011. He was the first pitcher on the Cardinals to win that many in his first two MLB seasons since Harvey Haddix in 1953 and 1954.
Despite the long layoff of close to a year between major leagues starts, Garcia did not yield a hit until 3.1 innings had passed. The only baserunners he allowed before the fourth frame was the lead-off batter that walked in each inning. After the game Garcia remarked sadly, “It’s not something you want to do. After that happens you get outs any time you need to.”
The base on balls issued to Lucas Duda with one out in the fourth was followed by three consecutive singles by Michael Cuddyer, Daniel Murphy and John Mayberrry, Jr., the last of which plated Duda. Two innings later, Duda drove the ball into the seats in center for a first pitch solo home run.
Those two innings were the only ones during which the 28 year old gave up either a hit and/or a run. Garcia left the contest after hurling seven innings. In addition to the five hits and two runs, the lefty walked five, one in each of the first five innings, and fanned three.
Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny expressed his pleasure at Garcia’s performance and in having him back in the starting rotation, “He [Garcia] was very good today and that’s with the traffic [walks]. Jaime’s stuff looked right today. He knows what he’s doing. [He had] a great approach from the beginning. He kept us in the gamer.”
Garcia’s catcher during the game, Tony Cruz, agreed with the manager, “I thought he [Garcia] threw the ball well, kept the ball down.”
Garcia intends to do whatever is necessary for him to remain in the rotation and help his club remain in first place in the National League Central Division, “I’m here. I want to compete to try to give us a chance to win every single time.”
The win was impossible on the Thursday matinee as Mets starter Jacob deGrom threw a one hit shutout for eight innings, striking out 11 and not issuing a walk.
The Cardinals’ third baseman Matt Carpenter got the only hit off deGrom, a single in the first. It was the 39th straight game this season in which he reached base.