Freddy Garcia was calm and in control for eight innings Monday when the Sox beat the Indians 2-1 in Cleveland. Garcia retired the last 14 batters he faced an used only 109 pitches.
After Garcia's last time out, I made the comment that he's not an "ace" pitcher, and I'm sticking to that. It is interesting to note that by similarity scores (found on www.baseballreference.com) Garcia finds himself alongside some other guys that are considered aces:
1. Matt Morris (956)
2. Kevin Millwood (956)
3. Ben McDonald (955)
4. Jose Guzman (951)
5. Larry Christenson (943)
6. Tom Lovett (941)
7. Pat Jarvis (940)
8. Mark Mulder (932)
Garcia is comparable to none other than the man he outdueled on Monday. And both guys are kind of similar in that they're good top-of-the-rotation guys, but not really aces because they walk a few too many guys (60-70 per year) and don't strike out a ton of guys (usually only 140-180 per season). Matt Morris is the same way, but with just a little better control (he averages 60 BB per year).
And the pitcher most like Garcia through age 29, his age during his last full season? Drumroll please..... former Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon. Of course Colon could dial up the strikeouts better, and was also a bit wilder.
-- Catcher Chris Widger, giving starter A.J. Pierzynski the day off, surprised me when he was the only Sox player to draw a walk Monday. He's never drawn more than 30 in a season, and in any season where he's had at least 100 at-bats, he's had an on-base percentage higher than .308 once -- a .325 back in 1999. Old player skills setting in? Sox fans can only hope so.
-- Sox lefty reliever Damaso Marte came in and got two batters in the ninth, but he gave up a walk when he didn't go right after Indians DH Travis Hafner. I can understand wanting to work carefully to Hafner, especially in a one-run game, but since Marte has the stuff to overpower left-handed hitter, that's what he should be doing.
OPS AGAINST MARTE 2002-05
RH Batters: .688
LH Batters: .470
In 13 career at-bats, Hafner has a career OPS of .760. But that's mostly because of a .375 on-base percentage bolstered by three walks, including one yesterday. Hafner has also struck out seven times in those 13 at-bats, so it seems to me like the lefty-hitting DH is more likely to hurt Marte by taking a free pass.
Scott Posednik raised his on-base percentage back up to .333 by going 2-for-4. He also stole a base, scored a run and plated another with two-out RBI single in the seventh that gave the Sox the lead for good. Is small ball really working? That remains to be seen, but I suspect Scotty P. is going to have to raise his OBP a bit to remain effective on offense the entire season.
The Sox play again at Cleveland on on Wednesday where Jose Contreras (1-0, 1.50 ERA) re-matches with Cliff Lee (0-1, 13.50). It will be interesting to see what the Tribe does against Contreras after seeing him for the second time in two weeks, and might tell us a little bit about what we can expect from the big Cuban righty for the rest of the year.