Freddy Garcia has a lot in common with Felix Hernandez.
They're both right-handed starting pitchers from Venezuela. Both of them came of age with the Seattle Mariners and made multiple All-Star teams by the time they were 25 years old.
Things kinda deviate from there. Garcia was a good starter in those early days and then morphed into a solid journeyman while Hernandez has won a Cy Young award and, on Wednesday afternoon, threw a perfect game to further burnish his claim as perhaps the best pitcher currently in the game.
Garcia couldn't match that performance on Wednesday night against the Rangers but there's not much chance you're going to hear any complaints from the Yankees. Garcia's 6.2 innings of two-run work was just about perfect for the Bronx Bombers, who took a 3-2 decision to make it three straight nights of sputtering from the mighty Rangers offense.
Garcia ran the streak of scoreless innings for Texas to 15 innings before Josh Hamilton hit a solo home run to put Texas on the board. Hamilton would homer off Garcia again in the seventh, but he was the only guy to solve Sweaty Freddy.
Everyone else flailed away at stuff that had to look perfectly hittable to a lineup that has lit up pitchers like Garcia often enough to reside near the top of the American League. Garcia struck out six, walked one and allowed just two hits to players other than Hamilton to keep the Yankees on an upward trajectory this week.
Garcia isn't going to be a player who gets fawning praise for his work over the course of this season, but his 3.69 ERA since re-entering the rotation when Andy Pettitte got hurt has been an essential part of keeping the Yankees pointed directly at a division title. A big part of the story of this Yankees season has been their ability to work around injuries and Garcia's been as much a player in that story as Eric Chavez or Raul Ibanez.
While not as pretty to watch as King Felix making the Rays look like a bunch of T-Ball players, Garcia's work has been effective enough to win games. It helps when you get assistance from the friends around you on the field.
He got out of a fourth inning jam with a double play turned by Derek Jeter, Jayson Nix (Robinson Cano missed the game with a stiff neck/broken heart over the Melky Cabrera drug suspension news) and Nick Swisher (Mark Teixeira got a DH night) and then handed things over to the bullpen when it started to look shaky in the seventh. Boone Logan got an out and the David Robertson/Rafael Soriano duo took care of things from there.
A perfect game? Not even close.
A perfect ending for the Yankees anyway? Absolutely.