You probably couldn’t have predicted this before the season started: that a pair of Garcias would be leading the offensive charge for the surging White Sox.
But here we are, still in 2017’s first month, and Avisail and Leury Garcia are swinging the biggest sticks for a White Sox team that’s scored 33 runs during a four-game winning streak.
Avisail, who’s earning way-too-early virtual MVP chants on Twitter on a nightly basis, delivered the biggest blow Wednesday, breaking a short-lived 2-all tie with a two-run blast to center field to put his team back in front for good. Leury added his own solo shot an inning later to make it a 5-2 score, the eventual final in the South Siders’ win over the visiting Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Avisail Garcia remains the biggest talking point around this team, resurgent in his performance this season after struggling during his first couple years in a White Sox uniform. Last season he slashed .245/.307/.285 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs in 120 games.
After Wednesday, he’s hitting .373 this season with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 20 games.
“His approach hasn’t changed,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He had an 0-for-4 day the other day and he kept it simple again. Kept his hands in tight and driving the ball, not just feeling for it, driving the thing and you see the hustle out of him, man. He made a nice play in the outfield, too, and he is playing the game of baseball.”
“What I think I've seen a little bit more this year, he's making good contact but now he seems to be driving the ball a little bit more, too,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It's a good thing.”
But don’t forget about Leury Garcia, who’s cranked his production up to 11 in the last few games. He’s 8-for-15 in the last four games with a pair of extra-base hits and four RBIs.
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Jacob May was pegged as the team’s everyday center fielder when camp broke. But Leury Garcia’s bat is forcing Renteria to keep writing his name in the lineup. And that, Leury Garcia said, has been the key to swinging such a hot bat.
“Yes, it was a matter of time. Because once you start getting more game time, more at-bats, you are feeling more comfortable with your approach and you are getting to know your team and what you have to do during the games,” Leury Garcia said. “For me, that has been the key, the playing time, the at-bats, the repetition. And that’s good.”
“Just his overall play. Obviously, he's getting on base, he's getting on whether through a hit or hustling down the line. He's making some plays in the outfield,” Renteria said. “Just his overall game is kind of coming together a little bit. I think it's part of who he is, and it's nice to see.”
Whether you want to believe that old baseball maxim that hitting is contagious or you don’t, there’s no doubt that the hits and runs have come from up and down the White Sox lineup during this stretch. Wednesday, Jose Abreu and Frazier got things going with back-to-back RBI doubles in the first inning.
That 2-0 lead held until the Royals chipped away at White Sox starter Jose Quintana, first with a run on a Jorge Bonifacio fifth-inning single and then with a run on a game-tying Alcides Escobar groundout in the sixth. Quintana had a pair of wild pitches in that sixth inning.
But then came Avisail Garcia’s heroics, the White Sox lineup finally providing some run support for Quintana, who won for the first time this season.
“The old saying hitting is contagious,” Frazier said. “You know to come out and get two quick runs with two outs, I think we got all the runs with two outs — spectacular. We had to keep pounding a little bit. Looked like both teams a little sluggish, quick turnaround after last night’s game and to get on top early kind of put a damper on the other team.”
The White Sox will take their four-game winning streak to Detroit for the start of a 10-game road trip that swings through the Motor City, Kansas City and Baltimore.
Or maybe we should be calling it The Garcia & Garcia Show World Tour.