SEATTLE — Detroit Tigers right-hander Bryan Garcia lost his footing and took a tumble.
In the fifth inning, Garcia threw a second-pitch changeup to Sam Haggerty. On his way toward home plate, he slipped while releasing the pitch — just a bit outside — before falling into a sideways somersault.
"The tumble threw me out of whack," Garcia said.
Garcia created a mess in the fifth inning, but after allowing one run, he responded by striking out American League Rookie of the Year favorite Julio Rodriguez with an up-and-in fastball and generating a double play with a first-pitch fastball to Ty France.
The Tigers — riding Garcia's solid effort in a spot start — beat the postseason-bound Seattle Mariners, 4-3, in Monday's series opener at T-Mobile Park, their 11th victory in the past 13 games.
The teams play a doubleheader Tuesday before Wednesday's finale concludes the regular season.
"He was really good," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He deserved this game. ... His changeup was really nasty tonight. He bounced back from the one rough inning that he had and was able to corral their offense as (the lineup) turned over."
Garcia carried the Tigers (66-93) with 6⅔ innings of three-run ball in his fourth MLB start of the season. The 27-year-old, formerly Detroit's closer in the shortened 2020 campaign, began the year in Triple-A Toledo as a reliever and transitioned to a starter in hopes of enticing teams to sign him this offseason.
After a shaky fifth, Garcia dominated in the sixth inning. He retired three straight batters: Mitch Haniger, Eugenio Suarez and Cal Raleigh, striking out Haniger with a slider and Raleigh with a fastball.
Returning for the seventh marked the deepest start of Garcia's career.
"It's very gratifying," Garcia said. "Last year, it wasn't a great year for me. To come back, get taken off the roster, get back on (the roster) and completely change roles, and to finish like that, it's pretty awesome."
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He retired the first two batters on three pitches, but the next two batters reached safely to bring Rodriguez to the plate. That's when Hinch replaced Garcia with right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero.
Rodriguez ripped an RBI double to left-center, cutting the Tigers' lead to 4-3.
France, though, struck out to end the seventh.
"I wasn't running out of gas," Garcia said. "I felt good. I thought I could keep going, but with the score of the game and the situation, it was definitely time."
Garcia allowed three runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts, throwing 60 of 89 pitches for strikes. The Mariners scored their first run in the first inning, on Suarez's sacrifice fly, and their second run in the fifth, on Adam Frazier's single.
For his 89 pitches, Garcia relied on a three-pitch mix: 37 changeups (42%), 32 sinkers (36%) and 20 sliders (22%). He recoreded 15 swings and misses on six changeups, five sinkers and three sliders, along with 17 called strikes.
"He mixed it up," catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "It felt like we threw more sliders and changeups than we did fastballs, which is a rarity for most starting pitchers. He commanded the zone. He threw just enough strikes to get guys to chase."
The Tigers provided Garcia with run support early against Mariners right-hander George Kirby. A leadoff walk from Akil Baddoo, combined with a stolen base, gave the Tigers an opportunity to strike.
With two outs, Miguel Cabrera singled to center field for a 1-0 lead.
"Kirby is a really good pitcher," Hinch said. "We made him work. We did the best we could to put as much pressure on their bullpen, both for today and tomorrow (with the doubleheader). I know they probably didn't want to pull Kirby when they had to, but we worked the counts enough and made him throw enough strikes to get into the 'pen."
The Tigers separated themselves on the scoreboard in the third inning, as Riley Greene worked a walk — his 14th in the past 26 games — to set the table for Javier Báez with two outs. Although Báez fell behind 0-2 in the count, he hammered a third-pitch slider for a two-run home run to right-center field.
His 17th homer put the Tigers ahead 3-1.
"Javy's homer to the opposite field is something that we continue to harp on about what's good for him," Hinch said.
Three singles, capped by Victor Reyes' RBI single, increased the margin to 4-1 in the fourth inning. Kirby allowed four runs on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts over four innings, throwing 66 of 93 pitches for strikes.
El Mago made this one vanish in a hurry. pic.twitter.com/3Ljr0P0R4R
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 4, 2022
An old friend
After Kirby's exit, the Mariners' bullpen silenced the Tigers. The group of relievers featured ex-Tiger Matthew Boyd. He tossed three scoreless innings and racked up five strikeouts in his ninth appearance this season.
Boyd's lone blemish was a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Ryan Kreidler in the eighth inning. He threw 29 of 41 pitches for strikes and recorded 11 swings and misses, including six whiffs on nine changeups.
As for the Tigers' bullpen, Cisnero returned to the bump for the eighth and fired a scoreless inning. Left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin took over for the ninth. He notched his third save of the season and 11th of his 475-game career.
Chafin has two saves in the past three games.
"You got the crowd yelling at you," Chafin said. "You got a little bit of adrenaline going out there. At that point in the game, it was do-or-die. We were either going to win the game or lose the game right there. As far as my approach, it doesn't really change."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Bryan Garcia carries Detroit Tigers in 4-3 win in Seattle