(KSDK Sports) - When he arrived back in St. Louis a couple of days ago, Jaime Garcia allowed himself to smile that his rehab from shoulder surgery and bursitis was about to be rewarded with his return to the rotation. However, after that start became a reality on Sunday, the lefty's performance was tempered by the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 defeat to the Atlanta Braves.
"Overall, I think it was alright," shared a subdued Garcia. "Obviously, when you face Major League hitters, you make mistakes and you pay the consequences. Today, that was the case. I made a few mistakes and they were able to put good swings on them. But overall, physically I felt good."
The line for Jaime Garcia was 7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (83 pitches/54 strikes).
But with the exception of Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman (who combined to go 4-5 with 2 HRs, 4 RBIs, and HBP) Garcia was effective against the rest of the Atlanta lineup which went 1-19 against him.
Garcia was in line for the victory as the Cardinals headed to the 9th inning with a 5-4 lead and Trevor Rosenthal on for the save opportunity. Working in his fourth game in as many days, Rosenthal gave up a lead off single to Freeman before striking out Chris Johnson and popping out Andrelton Simmons to shortstop. Ryan Doumit had a pinch-hit double and Evan Gattis was intentionally walked to load the bases for Jordan Schaefer.
With a full-count, the call on a pitch on the inside-corner low in the zone went against Rosenthal and the Cardinals to walk in the tying run. Carlos Martinez made a wild pitch in relief to allow for the other Braves tally and St. Louis was unable to comeback in their half of the ninth.
"Yes, pushed him," said Matheny of bringing Rosenthal in four straight days. "One pitch right there. One pitch that maybe even could've been called–I haven't seen it but one pitch away. As soon as he got to two outs, it's his game. We had some back up ready in case it didn't happen but he's a tough kid. He wanted the ball today–we were going back and forth whether we needed it. He went out and played catch, felt real good. He and Carlos both. But, Carlos was in the same kind of boat–they've both worked hard lately. I pushed them today and it didn't work."
Matheny also explained why he left Garcia in to bat for himself in the 6th inning after Peter Bourjos led off with a single and the score was tied 4-4. "He had 72 pitches thru six innings. Second hitter. A good bunter. Everything pointed in the direction to let him get another inning." Garcia popped out attempting to bunt Bourjos to second.
–With his single in the 2nd inning, Jaime Garcia joined Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and Joe Kelly with hits on the season. Combined, that group is batting .185 (15-81).
Wainwright (.381, 8-21), Wacha (.063, 1-16), Lynn (.063, 1-16), Miller (3-18, .167), Kelly (1-6, .167), and Garcia (1-3, .333).
–Marco Gonzalez made his Double-A debut last night starting for Springfield. The 2013 first round pick (19th overall) threw five innings and allowed six hits, 3 runs/1 earned, walked two, and struck out five. He threw 90 pitches/56 strikes.
Brian Stull will be contributing to KSDK Sports throught the 2014 MLB season. Brian is the St. Louis Cardinals lead writer at St. Louis Baseball Weekly and is the host of the St. Louis Baseball Weekly radio show on CBS Sports Radio 920.