Three days’ rest is no worry for Garcia

  • Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, October 17, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

By Scott M. Johnson

Herald Writer

SEATTLE – Freddy Garcia treats pitching on three days rest much like any of the other potential roadblocks he has faced in his career. The 25-year-old gives a shrug and a look that says, What’s the big deal?

You get the idea that Garcia could be told the mound would be moved back 70 feet, and he’d have the same reaction.

But statistics prove that it’s more difficult than advertised. Seattle Mariners teammate Jamie Moyer’s victory Monday marked the first time a starting pitcher has won a playoff game off three days rest since San Diego’s Sterling Hitchcock did it in 1998. Between Hitchcock and Moyer, there have been many failures. The three starters who threw on three days rest in last year’s postseason went a combined 0-2 with a 13.89 earned run average. In 1999, six pitchers went 0-2 with a 19.33 ERA.

Yet Garcia is not worried about how he’ll fare today, despite the fact that he started and threw 82 pitches over six innings of Sunday’s 6-2 victory at Cleveland.

“I think I’ll be all right,” Garcia said before Wednesday’s game. “That’s the first time I (will have) had to do that this season, but I think I will be all right.”

Today’s game will actually mark the third time Garcia has pitched on three days rest during his three major league seasons. It’s happened twice, although one of those came following his only major league relief appearance in August 2000. In his start after that appearance, Garcia allowed three runs on five hits in 6 1/3innings and did not figure in the decision.

His only back-to-back starts with three days rest in between came in 1999, and the result wasn’t pretty. In the start following a short rest, he gave up six runs on eight hits in 5 1/3innings and took the loss in a 14-11 Baltimore victory.

Still, Garcia said he expects no problems today.

“There’s no change, really,” Garcia said of his preparation. “(On Tuesday) I threw in the bullpen, and I’m fine.”

By starting Garcia today, the Mariners expect to have him available for Game 6 of the AL Championship Series. Had he taken four or more days’ rest, which is the usual pattern for starters during the regular season, Garcia probably wouldn’t have been able to make more than one appearance against the Yankees.

“He’s a big, strong kid,” manager Lou Piniella said. “He’ll be ready to go.”

New York’s starter today, veteran Mike Mussina, has a bit more experience in starts following three days’ rest. But because of the way both AL Division Series played out, the Yankees will have all four of their postseason starters rested and ready to go.

“I don’t necessarily think there’s a physical advantage,” said Mussina, who threw seven shutout innings in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Oakland. “It may be a mental advantage.”

Mussina has a 15-inning scoreless streak in postseason games, dating back to the 1997 postseason when he was with the Baltimore Orioles. He has won six consecutive decisions this year, including the final five of the regular season.

Mussina has a career 12-5 record and 3.77 ERA against the Mariners, splitting two decisions with Seattle in 2001.

“You never know with Mike,” Mariners second baseman Bret Boone said. “He’s got a lot of different pitches, and he goes at you differently. The first time we faced him, we beat him, and he pitched one way. The next time, he pitched a little different. He pitched well. … He’s got a lot of different ways he can go at you, and you’ve just got to adjust how you go at him.”

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