When Leury García came to the plate in the ninth inning with a chance to plate the game’s first run, he kept his approach pretty simple.
“Bring the guys in,” García said. “I know (Camilo Doval) is a pretty good pitcher. Everybody knows that, and he’s got pretty good stuff. So I tried to put the ball in play and drive the guys in.”
Calling Doval’s stuff “pretty good,” is quite the understatement. His average fastball velocity is the second-highest in the game this year, at 100.5 mph. Same with his cutter at 99 mph. After those two pitches, Doval deploys an 89 mph slider with a -12 run value that’s tied for seventh-most effective in the league.
It was the slider which Leury laced to right field for the White Sox’ game-winning hit, and it was no small feat catching up to the pitch. García was clearly happy to come through for his team in that situation, but after the game he played it off as just putting together a good at-bat, like he always tries to do. His manager was a little more effusive when describing the big hit, though.
“He’s a big-time player and he got a big-time hit, and that was a big-time arm out there,” Tony La Russa said. “He’s special. I mean, that was huge for us.
“In that situation, two outs, two strikes on you, against that arm out, that’s as good as it gets.”
García has been mired in one of the worst seasons of his career, and coming into Friday night he was hitting .193/.220/.260 with two homers and 12 RBI. He had 41 strikeouts to just six walks. But in his 10 seasons with the White Sox, García has earned the trust and admiration of his teammates. They hope this is a sign of good things to come for him.
“That was awesome,” said Lance Lynn. “He’s had a little struggle early on this year, and he’s not going to shy away from that… so for him to get that knock there, hopefully that kind of gets the weight off his shoulders. Now he can just relax and go play, and go be the player that we all know he is.”