CHICAGO -- Avisail Garcia's great start to the season has reached such a lofty level now that when he finished 1-for-4 in the White Sox' 5-2 win over the Royals on Wednesday afternoon, his average tumbled -- all the way to .373.But that one hit was a game-changer for the
CHICAGO -- Avisail Garcia's great start to the season has reached such a lofty level now that when he finished 1-for-4 in the White Sox' 5-2 win over the Royals on Wednesday afternoon, his average tumbled -- all the way to .373.
But that one hit was a game-changer for the right fielder and the White Sox.
With two outs and Melky Cabrera on second in the sixth, Garcia broke a 2-2 tie with a blast to center field off Royals starter Nathan Karns. His fourth home run of the year traveled 451 feet, according to Statcast™ -- his third-longest homer in the Statcast™ era.
It had an exit velocity of 110.7 mph, a launch angle of 30 degrees and a hit probability of 98 percent. Behind the numbers, the blast sent the White Sox to a fourth straight victory and a sweep of the Royals.
"It's amazing," White Sox starter and winning pitcher Jose Quintana said of Garcia. "He hit the ball at the right time. He told me, 'That's for you.' I was happy with that, so next time when I go to the mound, I'll give to my team. But I'm really proud of him."
"I was trying to go down and away with a fastball," Karns said. "I left it kind of middle-middle. He didn't miss it."
The lofty average and team-high 17 RBIs and .600 slugging percentage become the biggest representation of Garcia's April turnaround. But there were other moments in Wednesday's game illustrating a different sort of player.
In the first inning, Garcia hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to shortstop Alcides Escobar and still almost beat out the play at first. He's 15 to 20 pounds lighter compared to last year and it shows in his movement. Garcia also made a nice running catching coming in on a Lorenzo Cain line drive.
Handling extended adversity will be the biggest challenge for Garcia. But Todd Frazier, for one, sees a different approach from his teammate in good times and bad.
"He had an 0-for-4 the other day and he kept it simple again," Frazier said. "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."
Garcia always has possessed the ability to be a standout player, known when he came to the White Sox as a five-tool talent. That ability has translated into impressive results through the first 20 games of the 2017 season.
"Look at the size of him. Could be a tight end for the Bears," Frazier said. "He's working his tail off. He understands you need to get off to a good start and keep it going. He's having a spectacular year."
"What I've seen a little bit more this year, he's making good contact," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "But now he seems to be driving the ball a little bit more, too. It's a good thing."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.