Garcia produces in first big league at-bats
Watch Miguel Cabrera and Avisail Garcia interact on the field, and you’d swear they were related. Same build, similar faces, same mannerisms.
“We make fun of him a little bit,” Alex Avila said. “He looks just like Miguel. Even the way he walks around and everything [is similar], so it’s pretty funny.”
Whether Garcia has a similar impact upon arrival in the big leagues is a much different comparison, and more than a little unfair. Still, his first Major League start was a pretty good night.
His first big-league hit wasn’t a walkoff home run like Cabrera hit for the Marlins on June 20, 2003, but his RBI single to score Delmon Young from third base was something two other Tigers had failed to do after Young’s leadoff triple.
Francisco Liriano had escaped a bases-loaded jam with back-to-back three-pitch strikeouts in the third inning, and the White Sox seemed to set to strand Young in the fifth, having played pitching matchups with their expanded bullpen and gotten groundouts from Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila. With Garcia coming up, manager Robin Ventura called on fastballer Nate Jones to overpower him.
Jones’ first pitch came in at 100 mph. Garcia shrugged it off for a ball.
His second pitch came in at 99. Garcia got enough of that to ground it through the right side for an opposite-field single.
“It’s a lot of feelings when you get a base hit in here and a big run and the team’s winning,” Garcia said.
Asked what was going through his mind, Garcia said, “I was just thinking, ‘Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.”
Manager Jim Leyland called it a huge hit.
“It looked like they were going to get out of it,” Leyland said. “That pumps them up a little bit, takes a little bit out of you. And when he got that hit, it really pumped the guys up. They were so tickled for him. To get his first hit, knock in a run, that’s a big thing for a kid.”
It was Garcia’s third plate appearance. He did something in his first plate appearance that took Miguel Cabrera a week in the big leagues to do. He drew a walk.
He fouled off four consecutive two-strike pitches to do it — two sliders, a changeup and a fastball.
“Before the game, watching TV, [I saw] he likes to throw a lot of sliders and changeups,” Garcia said. “He didn’t throw me fastball, just changeup, slider, changeup, slider, changeup, slider. And Cabrera said, ‘Hey, don’t wait for the slider, just fastball, fastball, fastball.’”
It worked well enough. He looked comfortable enough that Leyland said he’ll get another start Sunday against another White Sox left-hander, this time 15-game winner Chris Sale.
“I’m going to play him tomorrow,” Leyland said. “Why not? See what happens. He got a little anxious once, swung at a bad ball [for a strikeout in his second plate appearance]. …
“If you expect him to be a polished player right now, that’s not going to happen. But there’s some really crude, raw talent there that’s really impressive. He’s got a bright future. At some point he’ll play in Detroit for a long time.”