Jaime Garcia, the St. Louis Cardinals’ dominant young left-hander, took a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night, then lost the no-hitter in the next at-bat. But Garcia kept on top of the Brewers, inducing a double play to get out of the inning against the next batter he faced.
Garcia’s changeup and slider were astounding Friday, keeping the Brewers off-balance to the tune of eight strikeouts, but it was his command that stood out from his performances earlier in the season; until the seventh inning Garcia seemed perpetually ahead of the Brewers, and once he’d done that the Brewers had significant problems catching his off-speed pitches.
Garcia, who surprised by making the Cardinals’ rotation out of Spring Training in 2010, just a year after recovering from elbow surgery, went 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA in his rookie season, and has excelled in 2011 after Adam Wainwright’s injury required him to play a larger role. 2010 saw him is improvement in 2011 has come from a changeup that has fallen away from right-handers with an alarming consistency.
The Cardinals’ last no-hitter was thrown by 21-year-old left-hander Bud Smith, in 2001.