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Garcia the last man standing
07/10/2002 2:38 AM ET
MILWAUKEE -- Freddy Garcia knew he was going to be the so-called emergency pitcher for Tuesday night's All-Star Game, the last reliever out of the American League bullpen.

He just didn't know this particular emergency outing would turn into such an alarming ending to the 73rd All-Star Game.

The Mariners ace right-hander certainly did his job, pitching two shutout innings in the 10th and 11th. But he left to a chorus of boos after throwing the final pitch of Tuesday's 7-7 tie, striking out Benito Santiago for the game's final out.

"They weren't booing me," he said. "They were booing somebody else."

True, they were booing the decision to end the game as only the second tie in the history of the Midsummer Classic. The main reason for the decision cited by Yankees manager Joe Torre afterward was he didn't want to overextend Garcia by pitching him more than two innings.

But asked whether he had another inning in him, Garcia was quick to answer.

"Yeah, I was feeling pretty good," he said.

In fact, Garcia hadn't pitched in four days, so Tuesday was his regular turn.

But Torre was steadfast in saying that he didn't want to bear the responsibility of pushing Garcia too hard and then having to answer to Mariners manager Lou Piniella if Garcia wasn't himself his next time out for his team in a real game.

"The last thing I want to do is get a pitcher hurt and send Freddy Garcia back to Lou Piniella saying he can't pitch," Torre said. "That, to me, is the mortal sin of this whole thing."

Garcia did throw 31 pitches, matching AL teammate Mark Buehrle of the White Sox for the most of any pitchers in the game. He allowed two hits and struck out three, leaving the winning run stranded on third base in the 10th and on first in the 11th.

The only complaint Garcia had about the situation was the delay before the game started up again in the bottom of the 11th.

"They took a long time, you know? I was ready to pitch," he said. "They took maybe five or six minutes."

Garcia said he was made aware of his "emergency" role before the game even started.

"They told me before the game that if it goes extra innings, I'd be the guy," Garcia said.

The main reason Garcia was held back as the last guy out of the bullpen apparently was that Torre wanted to make sure all the first-timers got their chance to pitch. Garcia pitched in last year's All-Star Game in Seattle, picking up the victory after pitching only the third inning.

What did Torre say to Garcia afterward?

"He just thanked me for what I did," Garcia said.

The 25-year-old pitcher said he understood why the decision was made to call the game.

"Yeah, we didn't have anybody in the bullpen, so that was it," he said.

He said he also understood why the fans were upset at the end.

"They wanted to see who would win. . . . I don't think they left the ballpark happy," Garcia said.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.