Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A Mature 24-year-old Jon Garland?

I was actually at home this evening for the first time in a while and was able to watch the Sox/Toons game on the MLB Extra Innings package. I have to say, that was the best game I've seen Garland throw in a looooong time...maybe since he shut out Boston for 8 innings on May 22, 2002.

I thought Travis Hafner's second two at bats against Garland were especially indicative of how good Garland's command was. He found a hole in Hafner's approach - the breaking ball down and in, and worked that hole. In Hafner's third at bat, he set that pitch up by working away. On 3-2, he used it again (after having struck Hafner out in his second at bat on the same pitch) and put Hafner away. Each of the 3 times Hafner swung and missed on that pitch, Garland put it in the same spot.

The Cleveland announcers were very impressed with Garland. They noted that he was working faster than in previous times the Toons had seen him - getting the ball and throwing it a la Mark Buerhle. And the good pace Garland set made him look efficient.

I have to say, after 4 years of Jerry Manuel's head games (although I'm not sure those head games were anything more than Manuel's incompetence), Garland is a new, mature man under Guillen. Guillen trusts him, and that is making Garland start to trust himself and his stuff. That's a great thing, because Garland's always had great stuff. I'm starting to think that by the end of this season...and if the White Sox should make the playoffs, Garland might just be on the bump in Game 1 or Game 2. High fives all around for Jon G.

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