Avisail jumps into highlight reels, robs HR
Snares game-tying shot from Davis in ninth inning
CHICAGO -- David Robertson didn't keep the baseball used to strike out Matt Wieters and close out a 3-2 White Sox victory over the Orioles on Saturday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
Yes, it was Robertson's 18th save as White Sox closer, and he keeps a baseball from each one. But on this afternoon, the ball went to right fielder Avisail Garcia.
Without Garcia's spectacular catch to take a game-tying home run away from Chris Davis with one out in the ninth, these two teams might still be playing.
"I was just trying to see the ball and catch it," said Garcia of what ranks as one of the best White Sox catches in recent memory. "That's what happened. Instinct."
"Any time [Davis] makes contact, you're worried it's leaving the field," Robertson said. "I was just overjoyed to see [Garcia] catch that ball and come back with it. It was awesome."
J.B. Shuck's pinch-hit double off of Darren O'Day in the bottom of the eighth had given the White Sox a one-run advantage. Then the powerful Davis connected on a 1-0 fastball that many among the White Sox originally thought would clear the visitors' bullpen.
A mixture of slight wind blowing in and the topspin on Davis' hit knocked the ball down. Garcia, who was playing deep, got back quickly, leaped and made the catch with his left arm well over the right-field wall and without really looking it into his glove. Garcia raised his hands in celebration, as did Robertson on the mound.
"Right off the bat you see the ball up and we thought it was gone," said Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, whose two-run homer off Zach Putnam in the eighth tied the game. "But he went out there and made a [great] play. You can't do nothing much about it. You've just got to tip your cap and just go about it."
"As soon as I saw it hit, I put my head down. I thought it was going past the Miller Lite section of right field," White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton said. "But then I looked up and I'm like, 'That thing has some serious topspin, we've got a chance,' and as it's coming down. I know Avi, you could tell by his reaction, he was shocked he caught it too."
This moment for the struggling Orioles seems almost par for the course over the past week. For a White Sox team that has underachieved most of this 2015 season, it's the sort of uplifting play that does more than extend their winning streak to four games.
Garcia saved Saturday. It will be a while to figure out its ultimate effect on the season as a whole.
"When it's going to tie up a game, it's always a bigger deal," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Avi had some [offensive] opportunities today and it didn't happen. But he kept his head in there and played the defense when he needed."
"That was big," Garcia said. "That's what you're here for, to try to help your team, to do your best on the field and to try to contribute to win games."