ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia pitched in and out of trouble in the top of the first inning. When he found himself back in a jam in the second, Lance Lynn started throwing in the St. Louis bullpen.
Now, that wasn't a surprise. While Garcia pitched pretty well down the stretch, he had a couple of games that got away from him quickly, and Cards manager Mike Matheny couldn't afford to let that happen again on Monday, not in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against Washington. Not after already losing the opener of the best-of-five series. Not with the rest of the games on the road, at Nationals Park, beginning Wednesday afternoon (1 p.m. ET on MLB Network).
Here's what was different, though. Garcia ended the inning with a bit of a flourish, getting Jayson Werth to fly out and striking out Bryce Harper to escape by allowing just one run. That should have been the signal for Lynn to take a seat.
Instead, Lynn kept on throwing, and the 18-game winner entered the game to replace Garcia to start the third.
And after the Cardinals romped, 12-4, to even the series at Busch Stadium, Matheny revealed why. Garcia, who spent time on the disabled list with what was described as an "impingement" in his left shoulder, was experiencing some discomfort again and had been sent for an MRI.
The results won't be known until Tuesday, but this obviously puts Garcia's chances of participating in the rest of the postseason in serious doubt. That would be significant under any circumstances, even more so considering that Garcia is 8-2 with a 3.33 ERA lifetime against Cincinnati, a team St. Louis could conceivably play next, if it advances to the NL Championship Series.
Garcia was understandably downcast when he returned to the clubhouse before the Cards departed for their charter flight to Washington.
"I guess I would have to say I'm excited because we won, but disappointed personally, because of the way I had to come out of the game," Garcia said. "We'll see what happens."
Garcia added that he's been feeling some discomfort for a few days, and that it was still bothering him when he warmed up Monday.
"It just didn't feel right," Garcia said. "It was hurting and wasn't feeling the way it has been."
Asked if this was similar to the injury that landed him on the DL, Garcia just shook his head.
"I can't really talk about that. It just wasn't right, and it never got better," he said. "The last couple of weeks, I've been feeling the best I've felt in a long time, and everything has been going really good. I don't know how it happened. I don't know when it happened. I'm just hoping that it's not too bad."
Garcia thought it was something he could pitch through, but it just didn't work out that way.
"It actually happened a couple days ago," Garcia said. "Usually you get a little sore or stiff in between starts, and that's part of pitching. As you get closer to game time, the stiffness and soreness goes away. That allows you to go out there and execute your pitches. This is one of those things where it didn't get better the last couple days.
"This game, I was like, 'Go out there with no excuses and give your team a chance to win.' And it didn't get better again. It wasn't right. I don't even know what to think. I'm going to wait and see what the results are and then see how it feels in the next couple of days. It's a really tough situation for me right now."
Garcia said he didn't say anything to Matheny or the athletic trainers until after the second inning.
"You say something when you feel like you can't go," Garcia said. "And I felt like I was going to be able to go when the game came. How many times has my shoulder felt 100 percent with no stiffness, pain at all? Probably never. I thought I would make it through the game."
By that time, though, Matheny was already thinking about making a move, even though the pitcher's spot was still six at-bats away after the Cardinals went down in order in the top of the first.
"We were actually already moving towards that, before he came up to bat," Matheny said. "We put the wheels in motion to get Lynn ready, to make sure he had enough time."
For one night, at last, things couldn't have worked out much better for the Cards. Lynn was one of five relievers used, but Tuesday is a scheduled off-day. The offense scored seven runs in the first four innings to help take the pressure off.
What it means for Garcia, on the other hand, remains to be seen.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.