Garcia looks to help the Mariners keep pace in the AL wild-card race as they conclude their four-game series with the Texas Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington.
On Saturday, Garcia gave up just six hits in eight scoreless innings of a 5-1 win over the Anaheim Angels—his first victory since Aug. 17.
Garcia was also strong in his last start. Despite being charged with the 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he gave up just two runs—one earned—and four hits in seven innings.
That’s good news for Garcia, 3-6 since the All-Star break after posting a 9-8 record in the first half of the season.
“The last couple of times out Freddy has really taken it upon himself to step up and be a leader out there,” manager Bob Melvin said. “What he did tonight, when we weren’t doing anything offensively, was huge, and it was nice to give him a win. He pitched like an ace tonight.”
Melvin attributed some of Garcia’s recent success to Pat Borders, who has caught the right-hander’s last two starts. Borders, a 40-year-old veteran, was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 31, making him eligible for the postseason.
“The way it worked out last time, and as fluctuating a year as it has been for Freddy, I just felt it was the right thing to do,” Melvin said.
On Wednesday, the Mariners snapped a three-game losing streak, beating the Rangers 5-1.
The win moved Seattle to within 1 1/2 games of Boston in the AL wild-card race. The Red Sox lost 7-0 to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Wednesday.
The Mariners also remained 4 1/2 games behind Oakland in the AL West—the Athletics beat the Anaheim Angels 2-1. Seattle has a three-game series at Oakland this weekend.
“Our focus is just winning that day,” Melvin said. “If the focus is on watching the scoreboard or worrying about the next series, you’re not doing your job.”
Hank Blalock doubled for the Rangers, who have lost 10 of their last 13.
STANDINGS: Mariners - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, AL West. Rangers - 4th place, 24 1/2 GB, AL West.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Garcia (12-14, 4.75 ERA). Garcia is 4-4 with a 5.38 ERA in 14 career starts against the Rangers.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Joaquin Benoit (8-5, 5.75 ERA). Benoit has not pitched since Sept. 5, when he gave up two earned runs and two hits in 2-3 innings of relief in the Rangers’ 10-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins without receiving a decision. The right-hander, who has been nursing a strained muscle in his right shoulder, is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA—his lowest mark against any team—in two career starts against the Mariners.
SEASON SERIES: Mariners, 10-9.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mariners - 2B Boone stole his 15th base Wednesday, a new career high. … C Ben Davis rejoined the team after missing three days to attend his grandmother’s funeral. … From Aug. 28 to Sept. 16, the Mariners went 8-10, averaging two runs in the 10 losses and 6.88 runs in the eight victories. Six of the defeats were by one run. Rangers - Wednesday’s loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Rangers in September games at The Ballpark in Arlington. … 2B Michael Young has gone 11-18 (.611) in his last four games. He is just eight hits shy of becoming the eighth Ranger to accumulate 200 hits in a season. … RHP Benoit is 5-2 with a 5.72 ERA in 12 appearances, including seven starts, at home this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mariners - 40-34 on the road; Rangers - 40-37 at home.
INJURIES: Mariners - INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Rett Johnson (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Matt Thornton (elbow), 60-day DL. Rangers - IF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Juan Gonzalez (calf), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL; OF Kevin Mench (wrist), 60-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (back), 60-day DL; RHP Ricardo Rodriguez (hip), 60-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL.