Off to a rough start in 2007, the Philadelphia Phillies hope a major offseason acquisition can give them a lift in his debut with the team.
Garcia opened the season on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right biceps, and will be making his first start since joining the Phillies in a December trade. The 30-year-old right-hander went 17-9 with a 4.53 ERA with the Chicago White Sox in 2006, and has won at least 12 games in seven of his eight major league seasons.
Last year, no Philadelphia starter won more than 12 games.
“He’s had to pitch when it’s on the line. He’s had the opportunity to do things you want a pitcher to be able to do,” Phillies assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said after acquiring Garcia. “He’s going to fit nicely into our rotation and we feel like he’s a guy that’s going to be able to give us innings. He’s a proven winner.”
Garcia, whose career started in the Astros organization, pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed only four hits in his last start against Houston, a 1-0 win in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series that completed a sweep for the White Sox.
The Phillies (3-8) got swept by Atlanta in their opening series, and had dropped five of six before beating the Astros 8-5 on Saturday. Philadelphia overcame a bad outing from starter Cole Hamels, who gave up five runs in six innings.
Philadelphia starters have surrendered at least five runs five times already this season, and the Phillies are 1-4 in those games. The starting rotation has a combined ERA of 5.94.
Houston’s pitching, though, has been just as bad in this series. The Astros (4-6) have allowed 14 runs and 25 hits in the first two games, while allowing the Phillies to bat .333 (25-for-75).
The Astros had won all three of their road games this season - and nine of 10 at Citizens Bank Park - before Saturday’s defeat.
The Phillies, on the other hand, earned their first home win in five tries.
Houston will give the ball to left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (0-1, 3.86 ERA), who gave up three runs and four hits over seven solid innings in his season debut while walking none and striking out five, but got charged with the loss in a 4-2 defeat to St. Louis on April 6.
In two appearances - one start - against Philadelphia last season, Rodriguez gave up six runs and nine hits in just 5 2/3 innings.
Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins is 3-for-5 with a home run in his career against Rodriguez. Rollins hit his NL-leading sixth home run and also singled in Saturday’s win, his third straight multi-hit game.
He is batting .326 (28-for-86) against the Astros over the last three seasons with at least one hit in 19 of those 20 games.
Houston’s Carlos Lee, who had three home runs and six RBIs in Friday’s series opener before going 1-for-4 with a single on Saturday, has a .321 (9-for-28) lifetime average against Garcia.