'Our lineup can bang': Garver leads barrage with 2 homers

April 2nd, 2023

ARLINGTON -- jogged out of the batter’s box and flipped his bat, holding up two fingers toward the Rangers’ dugout. 

The two fingers signaled Garver’s second three-run homer of the day, as the catcher collected a career-high six RBIs in the Rangers’ 16-3 blowout win over the Phillies at Globe Life Field. It was Garver’s eighth career multi-homer game, but his first since coming to Texas.

“It’s fun and it feels good,” Garver said postgame. “It feels good to hit two hard balls that have a little bit of resemblance to what I used to do."

The Rangers haven’t seen much of that -- the home runs or the celebrations -- from Garver since trading for the catcher during Spring Training of 2022. 

Garver won a Silver Slugger Award in 2019 with Minnesota, when he slashed .273/.365/.630 with a .995 OPS, but has struggled with various injuries since then, most recently a flexor tendon in his forearm that limited him to just 54 games in '22 in his debut season with Texas. 

Garver slashed .300/.346/.660 in May 2022 and seemed to be hitting a groove before the forearm injury stalled his work at the plate. He finished with a .207/.298/.404 slash line before season-ending surgery. Now, he feels like Saturday was the breakthrough he needed to be the player he wants to be and the player the Rangers need him to be. 

If you ask Garver, the Rangers are getting an entirely new player compared to last year.

“It's big,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “Even in spring, he was trying to get his timing. He missed a lot of time [last season], and he had more than just two really good at-bats today. He's a really big part of this offense. If you can do that, hit two three-run homers, that's impressive. That was a great day.”

Garver’s success this season will be a major part of the Rangers’ overall offensive output this season. After an offseason supremely focused on adding pitching depth, the Rangers’ lineup has slipped under the radar after making just one addition on the offensive side of the ball in outfielder

The Rangers’ top four hitters are well-known, including three more guys who have won Silver Slugger Awards in their careers: (2021), (2016-17) and (2022), plus , who was an American League All-Star in '21. 

All four hit at least 26 homers last season, and García and Semien were two of the four AL players with at least 25 homers and 25 stolen bases. Those two picked up where they left off on Saturday, when García went 3-for-4 with a walk, while Semien hit a leadoff homer.

But the rest of the Rangers lineup is deeper and more powerful than anybody has given them credit for externally. They outscored the defending National League champions 27-10 over the first two games of the season. 

The depth of the lineup has shown clearly over the two games; all nine Rangers’ starters reached base at least once, and in Saturday’s win, four notched mulit-hit games, including Garver’s two-homer day.  

Starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi -- who picked up his first win as a Ranger with his five-inning start -- emphasized how big it is for the pitching staff to have an offense that stays on the attack at all times. The two sides of the ball are able to lean on each other whenever necessary.

“You look around the room, even from last year to this year, guys are making huge leaps,” Garver said. “Top to bottom, our lineup can bang. It's really fun when we tie it all together. …. It’s just a pretty potent lineup.”

When healthy, Garver -- along with Grossman and rookie third baseman hitting behind the core four of Semien, Seager, Lowe and García -- the Rangers have more than enough firepower at the plate.

“It's a deep lineup,” Bochy added. “You look at the back end, Miller hit a home run [on Opening Day], [Josh] Smith gives you good at-bats, I mean, it's a lineup that can do damage everywhere throughout the lineup. It’s a lineup that doesn’t just depend on your core guys. That’s the way you have success on the offensive side. It’s a fun lineup to watch.”