The Dallas Morning News

Garcia adds another jolt with game-winning HR

Outfielder making the most of his chance in just 3 days with team

- EVAN GRANT egrant@dallasnews.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It was Jackie Robinson Day throughout baseball. It was a day to celebrate overcoming obstacles.

It was a day made for Adolis Garcia.

The outfielder, who left Cuba six years ago, made his way to Japan and then waited and waited and waited for a shot at the majors, has given the Rangers a jolt in his three days since finally getting a real shot at the majors. On Thursday, he electrifie­d the club with a 10thinning homer, the first of his brief major league career, to push the young Rangers to a 6-4 win over Tampa Bay.

Garcia, 28, caught a 1-2 slider moving toward the outside edge of the plate from Cody Reed and drove it to right field. Garcia’s friend, Randy Arozarena, the reigning Cuban-born sensation, turned toward the wall, took a couple of steps and watched it hit three rows up in the seats. Garcia leaped into the air as he rounded first base.

“What he did sparked everybody,” Rangers manager

Chris Woodward said. “And on Jackie Robinson Day. He was the one guy I looked at from behind and saw Jackie’s physique. He just reminded me of Jackie with his frame. And for him to win the game on this day, man, there’s something bigger involved.”

“It’s a very special day,” Garcia said through an interprete­r. “For everything Jackie did for people of all colors and races, it’s just very special for me.”

It has been a pretty special week for Garcia and the Rangers. And he’s only been around three days. But the Rangers have won all three games, all at Tampa Bay. It gave them a road series win against the defending AL champs. They had all of one road series win in 2020.

On Thursday, he saved the day after Rangers pitchers ran into a rash of late-inning wildness. The Rangers had led three different times but allowed the tying run to score in the seventh on four walks and two throwing errors on the same play. Catcher Jose Trevino tried to throw behind a runner at second and the ball went into center field. Rookie Leody Taveras then tried to throw to third and the ball hit the runner, Brett Phillips, in the shoulder and bounced away. He scored the tying run.

Rule 5 pick Brett de Geus, rookie Josh Sborz and Taylor Hearn combined for 21⁄3 scoreless innings to get the Rangers to the 10th. Hearn, the only Black member of the Rangers’ active roster, was pitching for free, too. He donated his day’s pay to The Players Alliance, a charity designed to promote diversity and equality in the game.

The point: Despite the mistakes, the late wildness and the most rookies on any major league roster, the Rangers found a way to win. For a young team, that’s an important lesson.

“It’s so valuable,” Woodward said. “We will learn from the mistakes. But we can do all the prep and philosophi­cal talks, but you still have to win.”

Garcia, the last man cut in spring training, has been on the taxi squad all season. He was activated Tuesday after Ronald Guzman tore knee cartilage. The Rangers have not lost since.

On his first night, he singled and scored in the Rangers’ four-run lead that broke a fourgame losing streak. On Wednesday, he tripled off the top of the fence in right-center field to score two runs to punctuate a second straight win. It had looked like a home run on first glance. It looked like an inside-the-park homer on second glance, as he slid past catcher Mike Zunino. But on a replay challenge, umpires ruled he had been tagged out. So, he had to wait. The wait lasted another day.

“I told a friend that it was OK, that I’d get one the next day,” Garcia said.

In the 10th, with a runner placed on second to start the inning, Joey Gallo struck out. Garcia fell behind Reed, but one of the things that has raised the Rangers’ interest in him is an ability to shorten his swing and use right field more. He put it to use to change the direction of the game. It made him the first Ranger to make his first career home run a goahead run in extra innings.

“I think I jumped pretty high,” Garcia said of his leap.

“We jumped just as high,” said starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, who exited with one out in the sixth. “I think we are enjoying his success more than he is. He is so easy to cheer for.”

After the game ended on a strikeout by Ian Kennedy and the Rangers lined up for their congratula­tory handshakes, Garcia skipped in from right field. Then he skipped through the line, high-fiving his teammates.

He has put a little extra hop in the Rangers’ step, too.

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 ?? Steve Nesius/the Associated Press ?? Isiah Kiner-falefa (above left) is forced out at second by the Rays’ Joey Wendle. Kiner-falefa and the Rangers joined players around the major leagues Thursday in wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Famer and civil rights advocate. Rangers pitcher Taylor Hearn (left), meanwhile, joined more than 100 players in donating their salaries for the day to The Players Alliance, which seeks to help improve Black representa­tion in the sport.
Steve Nesius/the Associated Press Isiah Kiner-falefa (above left) is forced out at second by the Rays’ Joey Wendle. Kiner-falefa and the Rangers joined players around the major leagues Thursday in wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Famer and civil rights advocate. Rangers pitcher Taylor Hearn (left), meanwhile, joined more than 100 players in donating their salaries for the day to The Players Alliance, which seeks to help improve Black representa­tion in the sport.
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