BOSTON -- If Freddy Garcia's last visit to Fenway Park on April 21 wasn't quite the end of the line for the 35-year-old righthander, it seemed close. He left after 12/3 innings trailing 5-0, but just as the Yankees rebounded for a 15-9 win in that game, Garcia has rediscovered his starter's form after working out of the bullpen for the first time in his career.
Starting with three no-hit innings, Garcia (3-2) allowed six hits and struck out a season-high five in 62/3 innings in a 6-1 win over the Red Sox in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.
After his previous Fenway foray, Garcia had one more poor start in Detroit before being sent to the bullpen. Before that, he had made only two relief appearances in a career that began in 1999, but in the course of 10 relief efforts, he found the velocity that deserted him in April.
Garcia's fastball reached 90 on the radar gun Saturday, which set up his extensive array of off-speed pitches.
Asked if he had been worried that Garcia was done, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, "If he was a little older, I would have been more concerned, but I saw signs in the bullpen. Freddy was like, 'I'm going to get back.' He was committed to getting back. To me, he probably had a little dead-arm period in the first month."
After his first win of the season as a starter, Garcia explained what he went through. "I was feeling good in spring training," he said. "The season started and something happened . . . You feel you have nothing. You try to make it happen, but you don't feel strong, nothing. It's bad."
Garcia allowed only a walk while retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. He lost the no-hitter when three straight singles by David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez and Mauro Gomez produced Boston's only run in the fourth. Garcia got out of that jam with a 4-6-3 double play and made it into the seventh.
"It worked for me," Garcia said of his bullpen experience. "I wasn't pitching that much, but I would play long toss and do my stuff. I'm not a bullpen guy. But I learned how to work in the bullpen, and I feel great."