Freddy Garcia wants to keep starting for the Yankees.
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The 35-year-old right-hander pitched six scoreless innings Saturday in his last regular-season outing, helping New York beat the Boston Red Sox 9-1 and improving his chances of earning a postseason start.
”I need to pitch good today,” Garcia said. ”I was really happy about it, and now I look forward to my next start. I don’t know when, but hopefully, they will make a decision and let me know. … Hopefully, they will give me the ball and I’ll be there to pitch. That’s what I do.”
The Yankees so far have a first-round playoff rotation of CC Sabathia and rookie Ivan Nova. Phil Hughes tested his bad back in a bullpen session and was very positive, but he could end up in a relief role because of his experience there. A.J. Burnett, one of the starters Sunday in the split-doubleheader, has struggled again in the second half. And Bartolo Colon has faded.
”He’s definitely one of the guys that we’re considering. Freddy is a guy who’s been there and done all that,” manager Joe Girardi said. ”So, as we move forward, we’ll continue to look at all these things. But today, he pitched great.”
Garcia (12-8) allowed 15 runs in his previous three outings but kept Boston at bay with slow breaking pitches. On his final batter, Garcia fielded Marco Scutaro’s comebacker and nonchalantly pounded the ball in his glove before tossing to first.
Derek Jeter capped a six-run second inning with a three-run homer, rookie Jesus Montero had four RBI in finishing a triple shy of the cycle and the Yankees dropped the Red Sox to 4-15 since Boston held a nine-game lead over the Rays in the AL wild-card race on Sept. 4.
The Yankees could clinch home-field advantage through the AL championship series with one more win or Tigers loss.
Before a regular-season record crowd of 49,556 at the new Yankee Stadium, the AL East champion Yankees used their ”A” lineup for the opener of the series that was pushed back by a rainout Friday. They quickly roughed up Jon Lester (15-9).
By the ninth, all the starting position players except Nick Swisher were out of the game.
Montero hit the fourth homer of his brief big league career, doubled in two runs in the third and had an RBI single in four at-bats. Russell Martin backed his declaration of dislike for the rival Red Sox with a two-run single.
”We’ve said he’s a dangerous bat,” Girardi said of Montero. ”We’ve said that all along.”
Boston had been 6-0 at Yankee Stadium this year and 11-4 against New York overall. Lester had already beaten Garcia twice this season and had won each of his last four starts in the Bronx.
”A disappointing game,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ”We didn’t finish a couple of plays, and they made us pay.”
With runners on first and second, shortstop Scutaro went deep into the hole to field Andruw Jones’ grounder. He seemed to have a chance to get the lead runner at third base but stumbled slightly and had to throw across his body to second. His throw was late, leaving the bases loaded.
Montero then hit a sharp grounder out of Scutaro’s reach for the first run. Martin followed with a sinking liner to left field that hit off the glove of a sliding Carl Crawford for two more runs.
”I just tried to make a play at it. Didn’t make it,” Crawford said.
Jeter, whose batting average is up to .297 after a first-half slump, followed with a drive into the right-field seats to make it 6-0. Before the game, the Yankees captain carried the bat Roger Maris used to hit his 61st homer onto the field as part of 50th anniversary ceremony.
”We need to stay sharp. There are a few more games until the playoffs start, so we need to keep it going,” Jeter said.
Lester gave up a two-out, two-run double to Montero in the third and was done, having given up eight runs. After Lester retired the first four batters, the Yankees were 8 for 12 against him.
The short outing — 55 pitches 2 2/3 innings — might make it easier for Francona to use Lester on short rest in Wednesday’s regular-season finale.
Boston’s starters fell to 3-10 with a 7.34 ERA in the last 19 games.
Montero, the Yankees’ top prospect, connected off Junichi Tazawa in the sixth for his fourth homer in 51 major league at-bats. All his home runs have gone to the opposite field in right.
NOTES: The game lasted 2 hours, 59 minutes – speed baseball as far as these two teams go. … Jeter has hits in 18 of his last 20 games. … Francona said he’s still unsure how Kevin Youkilis (sports hernia) can help the team. ”He’s will to try to do anything we ask him to do,” Francona. The Red Sox are going to give it a couple more days to see how he feels. … Michael Jordan watched the game from a suite. … Boston’s John Lackey and Tim Wakefield face Burnett and Nova in the split-doubleheader Sunday.