To understand Adolis García’s history with Houston and why he’s slowly but surely becoming an Astros killer, it goes back to a mid-May series in 2021.
García’s breakout season was chugging through early May until he walked off on the Astros twice -- once with a three-run homer and once with a bases-loaded RBI single-- en route to a three-game sweep at Globe Life Field. The one game he didn’t walk off during that series? A two-homer game from the outfielder instead.
It wasn't just the homers, however. As he rounded the bases and touched home plate after his first dinger of the multi-homer game, Houston catcher Martín Maldonado had a few words for him. At the time, García preferred not to comment, saying it was something he would keep between the two of them. He recalled that moment in the clubhouse this week.
“[Maldanado] just kind of told me that I wasn't going to hit off of them anymore,” García said through interpreter Raul Cardenas. “Like that would be the last home run I would hit. It kind of pushed me, gave me a little bit of inspiration to say, ‘You know what? We'll see. Let's find out.’ So that's kind of given that push for me to do better against them.”
He hit a home run the next at-bat that day, and many after that.
In 17 games against Houston last season, García slashed .329/.373/.686 with a 1.059 OPS, seven homers and 17 RBIs. The seven dingers were a club record for home runs against the Astros in a single season.
García has been made for the big moment. That much has been obvious since his breakout season last year, when he was the Rangers’ Rookie of the Year and finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. But is there any bigger moment in the regular season than the Rangers facing off against the in-state, divisional-rival Astros?
“I don't know, for whatever reason, he likes playing these guys,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “He's obviously had some big moments, so when you face a team or you face a pitcher that you've had success against, typically you think that's gonna continue. So there's natural confidence there. I think he just loves moments. He loves being in the big moment. He feeds off the energy. I think it's a good storyline, obviously, with us two being the two [Texas] teams. He hasn't been kind to the Astros. I hope he continues the trend.”