The Astros are turning to rookie Luis Garcia, pitching on short rest, to stave off elimination from the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday.
Manager Dusty Baker said it’s Garcia’s turn to throw, and that he can always rely on a rested bullpen if things go poorly for the 24-year-old.
“We think that he’s the best for the job,” Baker said Monday afternoon. “We realize that he has a short leash, but then everybody out there has a short leash and operating on low rest or not full rest.”
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Baker reeled off all his relievers who are available on Tuesday, leaving off only Kendall Graveman, who threw 37 pitches over two innings in the Astros’ 9-5 victory in Game 5. Atlanta still leads the series 3-2.
“We have [Jake] Odorizzi,” Baker said. “We could come back with [Jose] Urquidy because yesterday was his throw day, but I’d rather not. So we’ve got a full option [of relievers].”
Urquidy pitched an inning in relief in Game 5 on Sunday and is the likely Game 7 starter if he’s not used in Game 6.
Garcia was asked how his routine changed this week after starting Game 3 on Friday. He threw 72 pitches in 3 ⅔ innings.
“Nothing changed,” he said. “I just had to do things [prep] more quickly, I can say that. But nothing has changed.”
Baker also indicated backup catcher Jason Castro isn’t likely to be activated from the COVID-19 list for the final two games. He was ruled out before Game 4.
Meanwhile, the Astros manager is banking on his offense to repeat its Game 5 performance. He credited third baseman Alex Bregman with producing a key hit after moving down to seventh in the batting order. Bregman doubled in the top of the second inning, driving in the Astros’ first run after the Braves had just scored four in the first. He’s hitting .111 in the series.
“He [Bregman] looked better,” Baker said. “But you just don’t come out of something overnight generally. It didn’t take you a day to get in this mess, and it’s not going to take you a day to get out.”
That’s an indication that Baker is likely to keep the batting order somewhat intact for Game 6, though he’ll get to insert a new center fielder into the equation now that the series is back in Houston. Yordan Alvarez will return to being the designated hitter.
“I haven’t really, really decided exactly what I’m going to do,” Baker stated. “It depends who I think is the best to hit three, the best that we need outfield coverage, what we need for energy, who’s kind of been hot, who’s been cold.
“Usually, the thoughts come to me in the middle of the night.”
One thing the Astros are happy about is getting to take batting practice again. They missed it the first two games in Atlanta because of bad weather. After taking BP on Sunday, they scored the most runs of either team in any game this series.
“It was like coming out with no practice,” Baker said. “Like when’s the last time you’ve seen a football game and they don’t come out in the elements and practice? Or when’s the last time you see a basketball game and they don’t have the morning shootaround? Yesterday [Sunday] was more like the team that we know than the first couple games there.”
Atlanta won Games 3 and 4 by holding the Astros to a combined total of two runs. Houston doubled that amount by the third inning of Game 5.
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