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White Sox look to land knockout

Cool-hand Freddy looks to land knockout

BOSTON -- With the White Sox one victory away from leaving Beantown as the victors in the American League Division Series, it's fitting the club would send cool-hand Freddy Garcia to the mound against the Red Sox on Friday.

After all, there's a belief he was made for these types of games. Some would say genetically engineered.

"He's got ice water in his veins," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. "He's a guy, like a lot of our guys, who is a big part of the reason we are in the situation we are in. The bigger the situation, the better they are. Freddy is a horse and we couldn't have a better guy going for us."

Konerko could be right. Not about the freezing liquid, but about the timing. The White Sox defeated the Red Sox in the first two games of the ALDS in Chicago and are on the verge of winning their first postseason series since 1917.

Add the fact that Freddy is very ready, and the franchise could be poised for a celebration 88 years in the making.

"I'll do my job," Garcia said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I know it's going to be tough. You know, we play here in Boston [and] they play really good here. They can hit."

Garcia can also pitch. He went 14-8 with a 3.87 ERA in 33 starts in 2005, including solid performances in his final two regular season outings. He went 10-3 with a 3.40 ERA on the road and is 3-1 with a 4.54 ERA in six career appearances at Fenway Park. He is 6-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 starts against the Red Sox.

As far as Garcia is concerned, Friday will be business as usual.

"I never have any pressure," he said. "I like to go out there and perform, especially here. You know, it's an exciting ballpark to play. [Boston fans] are crazy. You know, it's fun to be in those kinds of situations. I like that."

Garcia is no stranger to the playoffs. He is 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA with 32 strikeouts in six postseason starts, all with the Seattle Mariners. His experience works to his advantage, he believes. So does his confidence.

"I've been [to the ALCS] a couple of times," Garcia said. "I want to go there tomorrow. I don't want to change anything. I'll go out there be myself. I don't want to go out there and try to do too much. I want to pitch the way I've always been pitching."

In 2001 with Seattle, he went 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA in three playoff starts. He lost Game 1 of the ALDS against Cleveland but won Game 4 in Cleveland with the Mariners on the brink of elimination. He was charged with the loss in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against New York that year after allowing three runs and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings at Safeco Field.

One season earlier, he went 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 11 strikeouts in two starts against the Yankees in the 2000 ALCS. He started Game 1 of the ALDS against the White Sox that season, allowing four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.

"Freddy is a big-game pitcher," White Sox center fielder Aaron Rowand said. "He is going to go out there and lay it on the line. He's got the experience and he's a guy that does not rattle under pressure or let the environment take him out of his game."

Remaining cool under pressure is not something Garcia is worried about come Friday. Panicking is not in his genes, or veins for that matter.

"You got to give credit to Chicago," Garcia said. "A lot of people talking about us, [that] we don't have no chance. We're here right now. We'll try to beat those guys somehow."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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