'Command-shy' Garcia allows 3 homers in debut

August 28th, 2019

DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Rico Garcia had the highlight of his Major League debut immediately -- a strikeout of Red Sox leadoff hitter . Beyond that, Garcia's five innings can be chalked up to a learning experience, as his club endured a 10-6 loss Tuesday night at Coors Field.

Garcia, who has gone a long way toward beating odds as a 30th-round Draft pick out of Hawaii Pacific University, was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque earlier in the day to replace the injured (right arm inflammation). The 25-year-old finished with two strikeouts but yielded three home runs -- one notable for its distance, another for its softness -- and seven hits, plus five walks.

"Tempo is a big part of my delivery -- I tend to slow down," Garcia said. "That's when I tend to have command issues, but we're going to keep working on it. We're going to perfect it. When I made pitches, I got outs. When I didn't make pitches, I got hit."

The Rockies' other debuting player, , who started in center field, socked a two-run homer to right field for his first Major League hit in the bottom of the eighth off . Also, 's two-run homer in the ninth off Smith was his 12th this month -- tying the Rockies' August record (Dante Bichette 1995, Andres Galarraga '96).

Ranked the Rockies' No. 20 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Garcia began the year with solid numbers at Double-A Hartford (8-2, 1.85 ERA in 13 starts). The numbers were quite different at Albuquerque (2-4, 7.16 ERA in 12 starts), as Garcia faced advanced hitters in a Pacific Coast League that has seen more hitter-friendly conditions than usual. Then the Red Sox greeted him at Coors.

Garcia fell behind, 2-0, in the second inning when Jackie Bradley Jr. launched a homer into the third deck -- 478 feet, the Red Sox's deepest since Statcast began measuring such feats in 2015.

"Whether it's 500 feet or barely a wall-scraper, I've got to focus on the next batter, pitch by pitch," Garcia said. "Just being able to bounce back was something I was focused on, not really thinking about it."

In the fourth, Christian Vazquez popped a two-run shot to left that Statcast pegged at a 9 percent hit probability -- something Garcia saw quite a bit of in Albuquerque.

"There were home runs I've given up in Albuquerque that I haven't seen in awhile," Garcia said. "Just being able to pitch and not just throw, that was the biggest learning experience in Albuquerque, and it's still a learning experience here in Denver."

Xander Bogaerts added a two-run shot to center in the fifth.

But the Rockies didn't do much to help Garcia achieve glory. Charlie Blackmon had three hits but little effect. He doubled off Rick Porcello (12-10) to open the first, but Blackmon didn't advance as Trevor Story struck out while Arenado and Daniel Murphy flied to right. And errors by second baseman Ryan McMahon and Hilliard assisted a four-run Sox seventh.

But the game will go down as an example of Major League standards for Garcia.

"He was a little command-shy today with the fastball and all his pitches," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Seven hits, five walks against this club, that's tough."

For Garcia, it will go down in memory forever. When reports surfaced that he would be scratched from an Albuquerque start on Monday for Tuesday's call-up, family members and friends cleared their schedules. When Garcia told them what was happening, flights were booked to see Garcia -- the 45th Hawaii-born player to appear in the Majors.

"Just having my family come -- family and friends," Garcia said. "It's been a long, long journey. As I was warming up for the game, I remembered everything I've been through. I couldn't have been here without my coaches and teammates, all the way from high school until now. It's a great opportunity, a great blessing."