García breaks postseason RBI record with walk-off blast

October 28th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- built his career by embracing the extremes.

After all, he is “El Bombi,” the American League Championship Series MVP; a villain booed mercilessly like he was Michael Jordan in Houston; the rare player that can strike out four times and then smash a grand slam; and the unlikeliest of stories -- an undrafted rookie twice designated for assignment turned two-time All-Star.

So when it came time for Game 1 of the World Series, of course García would live up to the moment on the biggest stage of his career. He smashed a walk-off home run in the 11th to power Texas to a 6-5 win vs. the D-backs on Friday night at Globe Life Field -- cementing his place in the playoff record books at the same time.

“Special players step up in moments like this,” Corey Seager said, “and he's done it all season for us.”

His opposite-field solo shot gave him 22 RBIs this October, the most in a single postseason in AL/NL history, eclipsing David Freese’s 21 during the Cardinals’ World Series run in 2011.

García homered for the fifth straight game, the second-longest streak in postseason history. He also recorded RBIs in his seventh consecutive game, also tied for the second-longest streak in postseason history, behind Ryan Howard’s eight in 2009.

“It's just something where God has given me the opportunity to have a little piece of history in the MLB postseason,” García said in Spanish through interpreter Will Nadal. “I think it's great.”

And García did it all by subverting the extremes he is known for -- from his mammoth home run power, to his high chase and strikeout rates and to the emotions he wears on his sleeve during lengthy home run trots.

The 30-year-old broke out in 2021 with a feast-or-famine mentality, hammering 31 home runs while posting high rates in chase (35.7%, sixth percentile) and strikeouts (31.2%, fifth percentile).

An offseason dedicated to controlling the strike zone and better swing decisions has unlocked an even more potent version of “El Bombi” in 2023. García cut down on the worst of his whiffs, walked at a career-high clip (10.3%, 74th percentile) and didn’t sacrifice a single bit of the power that makes him special.

On Friday night, the new-and-improved García was fully on display from the first at-bat. The right fielder worked the count to 3-1 and then smoked an RBI single at 116 mph, the hardest-hit ball in the World Series since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

He followed with a six-pitch walk in the third, his first free pass of the postseason. And after a hard-fought, eight-pitch single in the ninth, he shook off a hit-by-pitch on his hand to steal second and jump-start a potential rally in the 10th.

“Yeah, you can't deny it,” García said. “He hit me in that situation, but my focus is on just having good at-bats, just putting good swings on balls. And that's something that I think I've done very well.”

“He's doing such a great job of controlling his emotions, so to speak, where he's not overswinging, and he's staying under control,” manager Bruce Bochy added. “That's fun to watch when he does that.”

García, of course, was infamously plunked by Astros reliever Bryan Abreu, which incited a benches-clearing incident during Game 5 of the ALCS. His empathic bat flips and slams combined with long, glorious home run trots have become a part of the player he is, a part of being the emotional backbone of the Rangers.

But sometimes, García’s heroics are so great they can speak for themselves. He took only a moment to celebrate after an impressive, over-the-shoulder grab to rob Corbin Carroll of extra bases in the top of the ninth.

When he turned on a 96.7 mph sinker from D-backs reliever Miguel Castro for the game-winning shot in the 11th, it was as subdued of an Adolis García home run celebration as there is, carrying his bat to watch the ball leave the park before a light toss and Eurostepping his way into his teammates’ waiting arms at home plate to celebrate.

Chants of “El Bombi” reverberated from the stands and emanated from the Rangers’ clubhouse. The Cuban outfielder remained humble, like he always does after each special moment of his career, giving credit to Seager’s game-tying two-run blast in the ninth and thanking God.

But even García cracked a grin when asked how many more of these moments he had in him.

“I hope a lot of them,” García said with a laugh.