García snaps out of funk, keying Rangers' outburst

July 21st, 2022

MIAMI -- Prior to the Rangers’ one-day pit stop in Miami on Thursday, manager Chris Woodward said, “We’re trying to hit the ground running [in the] second half.”

The Rangers succeeded in a big way, shutting out the Marlins, 8-0, at loanDepot park to kick off a four-city, 11-game (in 11 days) road trip. It helped that Jon Gray was on the bump to deliver six innings of scoreless ball, and that the bullpen was well-rested for Texas’ first game back after the All-Star break. But perhaps more importantly, the Rangers’ offense did exactly what Woodward said: It hit, and it scored runs.

“That takes a load of stress off me, when we’re able to put like two or three runs on early,” Gray said. “That kind of put me in another mode -- it was a good thing. It was more like, ‘OK, let's go out here and give it six or seven great innings.’”

Every Rangers batter from two through nine got at least one hit. Included in that impressive offensive outburst was Adolis García, who had his first multihit game in almost two weeks and hit his first home run in almost a month. While off for the All-Star break, García worked on nailing down his timing. The improvement was noticeable.

“He seemed like he was in his legs a little more,” Woodward said. “He knew that this was going to be a big break for him just to get off his feet, but also get back to work a little bit. … You could just see the life in his body, the quality takes, the at-bats, it’s just so much better. And if he’s going to be an elite player in this league, he’s got to be like that every day.”

Proving that they took time over the break to “get right” seemed the theme of the afternoon for the Rangers, and especially García, whose first hit, an RBI single, capped a three-run third inning. His was the third consecutive RBI single that inning, too, after knocks from Nathaniel Lowe and Jonah Heim gave Texas an early lead.

That inning started with Ezequiel Duran, who had been recalled pregame after flying out to join the team in Miami as part of the taxi squad. Duran legged out an infield single to shift the momentum in Texas’ favor.

“He just got a quality at-bat,” Woodward said. “And some of the walks that we had … anything to get an extra couple of runs. Those are so important to us as an offense, just being picky and stubborn and disciplined, along with the guys that can slug and get base hits.”

García showed off that slugging power he had been missing in July, yanking a 91.9 mph four-seamer from Marlins righty Pablo López to right field in the fifth inning with a 104.9 mph exit velocity. Prior to the All-Star break, García was slugging just .179 in July, with the lowest batting average on the team -- .125 -- during that same period (minimum 20 at-bats).

“I was looking forward to making good contact,” García said via a translator. “I got a good swing, and luckily it went out. … I’m always working, every day I go and try to work hard to do things that are going to help me in my at-bats. I’ve been having a little bit of a tough time at the plate lately, but I think this time off really helped to get my timing back and my mentality back.”

García’s homer was one of five extra-base hits for the Rangers, who racked up 11 hits. Beginning the second half with an offense-heavy game to back Gray’s four-hit, five-strikeout start gave Texas a confidence boost, especially after one-run games (a 5-20 record) seemed to be the club’s kryptonite.

“We're going to slug, we know that,” Woodward said. “But if we can manufacture some runs that way, along with our baserunning mentality, that's how we're going to win a lot of games.”

Pregame, Woodward had emphasized the Rangers’ need to find a way to win the close games (often one-run games) that had caused trouble in the first half. So to prove that the club is capable of stringing together hits at the same time the pitching staff is shutting down opposing batters -- that’s the major confidence boost Texas needed. Even better was that the players who provided boosts were often ones who had lackluster ends to the first half, like García.

“Some of these guys can take that next step, because the second half is huge for some of these guys in that regard,” Woodward said pregame. “It's going to be big for our offensive guys, guys like Jonah and Adolis -- these guys have to take a step forward in the second half to just prove that they belong there.”