OAKLAND, Calif. – Lefthander Jaime Garcia made his first — and possibly last — start for the Twins on Friday night.
He showed the Twins how he can help them, or someone else, pitching out of trouble a couple of times in going 6⅔ innings against Oakland. The Twins held on for a 6-3 victory, ending a four-game losing streak that has dropped them below .500 for the first time since April.
“I don’t have social media. I don’t know what’s going on out there,” Garcia said after his American League debut. “I didn’t even know about Minnnesota. Everyone in the clubhouse in Atlanta and my family knew. Which has allowed me to focus on the things I can control.”
Garcia gave up eight hits and three walks, and he put the leadoff runner on three innings in a row. He had to dance out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second inning, and gave up two runs in the fourth. But he limited the damage against an Oakland lineup that mostly lacks dangerous hitters thanks to seven strikeouts and two double-play grounders, while the Twins offense knocked starter Daniel Gossett out of the game in the fourth inning.
“Even though you’re a veteran, when you transition somewhere under the circumstances — it’s just a different feel,” manager Paul Molitor said. “To get that one out of the way, that one’s big for us.”
Only days after the Twins acquired the veteran to help with their playoff chances, Garcia, 31, could be moved to another contender before Monday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.
According to a source with knowledge of with talks, the Dodgers and Yankees both have expressed interest in Garcia since he joined the Twins. And the Red Sox are also monitoring who the Twins could make available. That’s how quickly things can change in the days before the trade deadline, when a winning or losing streak can alter plans.
The Twins acquired Garcia on Monday from Atlanta. A lot has happened since then. They were swept by the Dodgers while the first-place Indians and second-place Royals continue long winning streaks. The Twins, only a half-game out of first place on July 22, now sit six games back in the AL Central and four back in the wild-card race.
“My job is to execute pitches for the Minnesota Twins for now and help us win any ballgame I can,” Garcia said.
At the most, the Twins were cautious buyers, not willing to make a splashy move that would cost them players they view as part of the near future. Now they could become sellers — unless they can use the struggling A’s to close the gap.
Ehire Adrianza opened the scoring in the second with an RBI single, and the Twins added four runs in the fourth, including the first of two RBI doubles by Jason Castro. Oakland got two runs off Garcia in the fourth and another in the fifth, but Garcia got out of that inning by getting Jed Lowrie to hit into a double play with runners on first and third.
“I think those guys that can slow the game down even when there’s traffic out there, they find ways to minimize the damage,” Molitor said.
Garcia, who can be a free agent after the season, has a decent four-seam (straight) fastball and a better two-seam (sinking) fastball, both used to set up his changeup. He doesn’t give up a lot of homers and entered Friday with a 55.4 percent ground-ball rate.