A wild one for Garcia

About the best thing that could be said about Freddy Garcia Tuesday night was that he did not get tagged with a losing decision. He had his teammates to thank for that as the Yankees rallied for three runs in the sixth inning to come back against Orioles rookie lefthander Wei-Yin Chen to make it a 4-4 game.

The Yanks had staked Garcia to a 1-0 lead on Derek Jeter’s leadoff homer, but the righthander had control problems throughout his 4 2/3 innings in which he barely threw more strikes (52) than balls (46). And, remember, those strike included four hits by the Orioles, including a home run by J.J. Hardy.

Garcia helped the Orioles to two gift runs on wild pitches. One of them came in the fifth inning after manager Joe Girardi had shown confidence in Garcia by not taking him out and bringing in lefthander Clay Rapada to pitch to the left-handed Nick Markakis. The skipper’s reward for leaving Garcia in the game was to watch him launch his fifth wild pitch that let in the fourth Baltimore run. On the next pitch, Garcia then hit Markakis. Yeah, it was that kind of night.

The five wild pitches tied the American League record for the amount in one game, set in 1912 by the Tigers’ Charles Weatley and tied by another Detroit pitcher, Jack Morris, in 1987, albeit in a 10-inning game. Garcia didn’t even pitch half that long.

The major league record for wild pitches in a game is six, a mark shared by three National League hurlers. Not surprisingly, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro is one of them, for the Braves in 1979, the same year Astros fireballer J.R. Richard did it. The Expos’ Bill Gullickson joined the list in 1982.

David Phelps, the James P. Dawson Award winner as the top rookie in the Yanks’ spring training camp, continued to impress with 2 1/3 hitless innings with four strikeouts, all looking. Phelps has struck out five of the nine batters he has faced in two relief appearances.

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