'It was his destiny': García clutch with long walk-off homer

June 26th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- It’s no surprise to anybody in the Rangers’ clubhouse anymore. This is what  does. 

The walk-offs and the clutch moments, coupled with a bat flip and a strut around the bases, topped off with a postgame cowboy hat in the clubhouse after a win. It all feels like it was meant for García.

And maybe it was. 

On Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Field, he did it all once again, blasting a 449-foot walk-off solo homer against the Nationals to secure a 3-2 Rangers’ victory and even the series. It was the second walk-off home run of his career, but his 13th game-tying or go-ahead homer in the sixth inning or later since the start of 2021.

“He's probably one of the most exciting players that I've played with,” said catcher Jonah Heim. “Offensively or defensively, he's gonna make a play. There's always that sense of belief, and he's proven that he's not shy about the big situation. You could even tell when he hit it, he knew that it was his destiny to do it. He's just really special.”

Rangers manager Chris Woodward noted García didn’t look good at the plate for any of his at-bats before that, having gone 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. But a couple of K’s have never stopped García before.

Instead he drove an 88.9 mph slider from Kyle Finnegan into deep left-center field and into the visitors’ bullpen for yet another clutch moment in his short big league career.

“He has a flair for doing that, it's amazing,” Woodward said. “This guy is different. I think that's just the best way I can describe him. Some guys have the knack for coming up big over and over and over again. It's lucky. He just constantly gives you good at-bats in big moments. He comes through a lot and you almost expect it.”

Woodward could only chuckle when he walked to the podium after the game, simply stating, “I know who my favorite player is,” before fielding questions about García.

It’s easy to see why. With his defensive development in the outfield and the clutch gene constantly on display, García has become an even more valuable player than anybody in the Rangers' front office or coaching staff could have expected.

García’s defense may have gone underrated because he doesn’t play a single outfield position. He’s mainly played center this season because of personnel reasons, but Woodward has emphasized that right field is his best defensive spot.

Playing right on Saturday, García made his presence known in the field even before his walk-off homer, including a catch at the warning track and a diving play on a sinking line drive in right field to rob César Hernández of a base hit in the ninth inning.

“My defense is something that takes a lot of training, and I always go out there and try to do my best, even when [I’m] not hitting,” García said through interpreter Raul Cardenas. “I try to take my defense to another level. I think that that's what helps me thrive when I go to the plate and gives me a little bit more energy.”

Most important from 2021 to this year has been García's ability to become a more well-rounded player. It’s not just a home-run-or-bust for him. He’s walking more, he’s driving balls into the gaps and he’s likely even solidified himself as one of the best defensive outfielders in the American League.

“I tell him this all the time, as often as I can without making it obnoxious, but the way he plays the game and the style that he plays the game with, the flair and the passion and the [teamwork] of his, I can go on and on and on, but he is like my perfect player,” Woodward said. “He enjoys it. He has true joy when he's out there. I tell him constantly, like, ‘You make our entire organization better. You make this game better, honestly.’ It's a joy to get to watch him every day.”