ST. LOUIS -- Jaime Garcia's postgame media session shed little insight into his role in the Cardinals' 4-0 win over the Royals on Friday night. The left-hander stressed that he was healthy and "extremely happy for the team," but otherwise dismissed questions that poked for anything more specific.
Plenty content, it seemed Garcia was, to let his pitching do all the talking.
And perhaps what Garcia is doing on the mound needs no verbal confirmation. He's been dominant since joining the rotation in mid-May and he would have helped the Cardinals to more than two wins in his first five starts had he been offered some run support. On Friday, he ensured he'd take care of that by contributing an RBI single in the Cardinals' two-run second.
From the mound, Garcia carved up a Kansas City lineup, allowing just four hits -- all infield singles -- in eight shutout frames and running his string of walk-free innings to 30. It was his deepest start of the year, and Garcia has now thrown at least seven innings four times.
"He was as good as we've seen him," manager Mike Matheny said. "You could obviously tell the sinker was working, getting those kinds of ground balls. But he also had his breaking ball working as well and his changeup. I don't know if you could ask any more than what we saw today."
Garcia has hushed health questions by returning from his latest shoulder injury with five quality starts. A rotation that was beginning to fracture a month ago has the National League's second lowest starters' ERA (2.84) since Garcia returned. With Adam Wainwright already sidelined for the year and Lance Lynn now shelved for at least two weeks, Garcia's importance in the rotation only grows.
"When he's healthy, that's kind of what you expect," Matheny said. "I think that's a pretty big statement, but he's that good."
Garcia, who earned his first win in five chances against the Royals and recorded his 500th career strikeout, threw eight scoreless innings for just the fourth time in his career. Before a two-run lead swelled to four in the eighth, Matheny informed Garcia his night was over.
Though Garcia's pitch count sat at a reasonable 96, Matheny stuck with the decision not to send Garcia out for an attempt of a complete game.
"You never want to come out of the game, but he made the decision and I respected it," Garcia said. "It worked out for the team."
The rest of Garcia's postgame responses weren't nearly as expansive. Asked his takeaways from the night, he responded: "W." And how he's feeling compared to other points in his career? "Healthy."
"I'll let you be the judge," Garcia said, when asked if this was his best start of the year.
Garcia was seemingly unimpressed, too, of making four starts without issuing a walk.
"I just heard [that] for the first time right now," Garcia said, "and I'm not going to pay attention to that."
And what about that key strikeout of Eric Hosmer with two on in the sixth? "Every out was big," Garcia said.
Five days from now, Garcia should have more to say -- when he takes the mound next to face the Twins.