For now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with Jaime Garcia’s left arm.
Garcia was spectacular Friday night in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 4-0 victory over Kansas City, yielding four infield hits in eight innings, walking none and striking out six.
Garcia, who recorded 11 ground-ball outs, is 2-3 with a 2.06 ERA and hasn’t walked a batter in 30 innings.
“When he’s healthy, it’s no fun for the hitters,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “You’re seeing awkward at-bats and awkward swings because his stuff can be that different than everyone else’s. It’s just a matter of keeping him in a good spot health-wise.
“He was as good as we’ve seen him. ... There wasn’t a lot of hard contact. You could obviously tell his sinker was working, getting those kind of ground balls. But he also had his breaking ball going as well, and his changeup. I don’t know if you can ask any more from what we saw today.”
The only hits against Garcia were by Mike Moustakas (two), Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. The Royals had one runner reach third, Moustakas in the fourth, and had more than one runner on base at the same time once, in the sixth.
Garcia threw 96 pitches, 73 for strikes. He didn’t seem enthusiastic about his performance.
Asked what he took from his game, Garcia replied, “W.”
Asked to compare how well he’s pitching now to at any other point in his career, Garcia answered, “I’m healthy.”
Was it Garcia’s best game of the year?
“I’ll let you be the judge,” he said. “All I can say is that I’m going out there and competing. I’m healthy and I’m competing.”
Garcia did elaborate, a little, on his ability to throw strikes.
“Command is the No. 1 thing,” he said. “Anybody, when they’re on the mound, wants to have that. ... Every out was big.”
Matheny said he could have sent Garcia back to the mound for the ninth. Garcia, in fact, briefly lobbied for a return. But the Cardinals led just 2-0 and Matheny’s plans were to use closer Trevor Rosenthal to close the door on the Royals.
The Cardinals scored two eighth-inning insurance runs, and by then, Garcia had cooled and there was no turning back. Matheny summoned Kevin Siegrist instead of Rosenthal, and Siegrist pitched a scoreless ninth, working around a two-out single to Eric Hosmer.
“You never want to come out of the game, but (Matheny) made the decision and I respected it. It was good. It worked out for the team,” Garcia said.