García gives White Sox much-needed spark in rout

June 29th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Leury García was well aware of his .190 average entering an 11-4 White Sox victory over the Angels Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.

And the affable veteran, while featuring a smile to match his positive attitude, still didn’t mince words concerning his struggles.

“I’ve been doing everything. I’ve tried a bunch of different things. Just trying to get out of it. But nothing yet. I’m just still working,” said García prior to Chicago’s come-from-behind win. “Me and [hitting coach] Frank [Menechino], we talk a lot and we are trying to find something that helps.

“My body feels good. I feel good at the plate. I feel good with everything I’ve been doing. I just stink right now.”

García sort of chuckled at his own assessment, quickly pointing out he was starting in left field for manager Tony La Russa’s crew so something could happen. Then, the switch-hitter went out and knocked out two hits among the 17-hit White Sox attack, reaching base three times.

In fact, every White Sox starter but Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn, who both went hitless, turned in multi-hit performances against the Angels (36-41). Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and José Abreu had three hits apiece, with Robert falling a triple short of the cycle.

“The game of baseball is a very difficult one. And we always try to do our best every day, and to have a day like today is good for everybody,” said Robert through interpreter Billy Russo. “That doesn’t mean we’ll have a day like that tomorrow, but we’re going to try.”

“Especially to be down and then battle back like that,” said White Sox second baseman Josh Harrison, who had two hits and three RBIs. “To continue to keep going, definitely a nice win. Kept the line moving, one through nine tough ABs. That’s typically a recipe for success.”

This uprising began when the White Sox scored five runs in the course of 21 pitches during the fifth, after spotting the Angels a 3-0 lead behind home runs from Andrew Velazquez, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani off Johnny Cueto (2-4) in the third. Harrison tied the game with a two-run homer off starter Chase Silseth and Robert delivered the go-ahead drive with a 448-foot homer to straightaway center against Oliver Ortega, which Trout took two steps on and then watched it clear the shrubbery.

Robert’s first-pitch home run had an exit velocity of 110.8 mph and an expected batting average of 1.000, per Statcast.

“I lost it,” said La Russa with a laugh. “I didn’t see where it bounced.”

“It was important because of the moment of the game,” Robert said. “It wasn’t like the longest homer or something like that.”

Cueto had a steady outing once again, allowing those three runs over six innings and 97 pitches. Cueto has made six quality starts out of his nine opportunities and improved to 5-0 against the Angels in six career starts.

During a raucous postgame clubhouse presentation that could be heard outside the doors, Cueto was chosen as the White Sox pitcher of the game by his teammates. Harrison earned the nod as player of the game, although as La Russa admitted, there were a number of honorable mentions.

“We’re down three and everybody said we’re not doing this to Johnny again,” La Russa said. “He gives it up early and he shuts them down. We had to do something.”

Yes, there were more powerful or impressive performances than García in Tuesday’s victory, but it was García’s single to left opening up that five-run fifth. He has become somewhat of the talking point for the team’s offensive shortcomings to date, after agreeing to a three-year, $16.5 million deal as a free agent this past offseason.

But García believes results are the only difference between 2022 and the ‘21 season, when he drove in 54 over 474 plate appearances and hit a key three-run home run during the Game 3 home American League Division Series victory over the Astros.

“I don’t have the results that I want, but I’m not frustrated about it. You just have to keep working. Just keep playing and try to help the team,” García said. “I’ve been hitting some balls right to them, and bad games, good games -- it’s something you can’t control. Just play the game right and play hard and do what you can do.”