Garcia getting his first chance
The Nationals have made it clear that this year's September recalls will play a much smaller role than in years past. Evaluating what they had in the minor leagues was critical back then. The playing time just isn't there this September with a pennant race in full swing. But there are always jobs available in the bullpen. It's the nature of relief pitching.
With veteran Sean Burnett nursing an irritated nerve in his elbow, rookie Christian Garcia is getting a look. His minor league numbers (0.86 ERA) and pedigree (2004 third-round pick) warranted it anyway. So far, so good. In his first two appearances -- 12Ú3 innings -- Garcia has allowed just one hit. The 27-year-old is another power arm, able to hit the high 90s and will get a serious look in spring training in 2013. This is his audition.
"We had heard [about Garcia] as of late when we started talking about the call-ups and we start kind of getting some stats on some guys and have an idea what they're doing," new teammate Adam LaRoche said. "He's got a chance this month to take a little stress off those guys and be a big part of it if he continues doing what he's been doing down there."
The resurgence in Baltimore »
For years critics have wondered whether the blundering Orioles have killed baseball in Baltimore. The Ravens have been the city's love for a decade, after all. But Thursday's sellout crowd rejoiced as the Orioles stunned the Yankees with three eighth-inning homers. The frenzied reaction was proof positive that the local baseball fans are still there -- they just need a reason to believe after 14 miserable seasons. It was just one game and attendance may drop back into the teens next week against Tampa Bay, but the Orioles have begun the long process of rebuilding their base.
The ills of September » Trouble is brewing for the AL West's two wild-card contenders. Both the Angels and A's have lost key starting pitchers at the worst possible time. Los Angeles ace Jered Weaver has shoulder tendinitis and didn't pitch against Detroit on Friday. For now, he's supposed to miss just one start. Oakland, meanwhile, lost Bartolo Colon to suspension last month, and Brandon McCarthy was doing fine work to stabilize the rotation in his absence. But a line drive off his head this week required surgery to fix a skull fracture and has knocked McCarthy out indefinitely, too.
Streak over? » While much of the "surprise" attention has been hogged by the Orioles this week, their fellow longtime losers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, are poised to break the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons in North American pro sports. Yes, it has been 20 years since the 1992 Pirates came within an inning of the World Series. At just 1? games out of the National League wild-card race entering Saturday, Pittsburgh still has a legitimate shot at the playoffs. But think small for now: A 10-15 finish finally clinches a winning record after 19 losing seasons.
1. Mark Reynolds » The Orioles first baseman had eight homers in seven games entering Friday.
2. Adam LaRoche » The other area first baseman reached base nine straight times for the Nationals.
3. David Murphy » The Rangers outfielder began September with eight hits in six games, including two homers.
1. Mike Leake » The young righty's no lock to make the Reds' playoff roster after his ERA rose to 4.73.
2. A.J. Pierzynski »
The White Sox catcher has 25 homers but had just six hits in 12 games entering Friday.
3. Tom Milone » The A's need a better start Sunday from their young lefty, who lasted just three innings Monday.