ARLINGTON -- It was a tale of two Adolis Garcías on Friday night when the Rangers faced off against the Braves at Globe Life Field.
Texas’ center fielder did what he does best: drive in runs. García was responsible for the team’s first two runs with a second-inning solo homer and fifth-inning RBI groundout in a 6-3 Interleague series-opening loss.
But he misplayed a line drive in the top of the third inning from Travis Demeritte. At 107.6 mph off the bat, according to Statcast, García immediately took off straight back in center field, but he lost the ball as he turned his back. By the time he found it, he was too far and attempted to dive forward for the ball. Instead, it bounced off his glove into no-man's land in left-center field.
Meanwhile, Demeritte sprinted around the bases easily for an inside the park home run.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward said there have been a few times this season where he felt like García got a poor read on the ball in center field, and he struggled to correct course and make the play.
“We didn't really see that a whole lot last year from him,” Woodward said. “I know that's the second time that I remember where he kind of got turned around the wrong way when the ball was basically right at him. I know [outfield coach Tony Beasley] basically came right to me and said he'll take care of it, and he'll talk with Adolis about it. I still obviously think Adolis is a great outfielder. Maybe there's just a couple of anomalies. We're going to address it. He's been open to it, so I don't think there's gonna be any issues.”
The good once again was García bouncing back the very next pitch, when he made a leaping catch while running back to rob Matt Olson of a potential extra-base hit.
Despite the defensive mishap, Woodward is confident in García as an all-around player going forward. García has found his groove at the plate recently, and he logged hits in 10 of the last 12 games. He drove in seven of Texas’ 15 runs through the first five games of the homestand.
“Yeah he's got a couple of good swings off obviously and had a couple homers,” Woodward said. “I think it's gonna kind of morph into getting the ball in the air a little bit more. He hit a ball really hard up the middle on the ground. His swing looks better. His timing looks a little bit better. He's getting on the fastball a little better. I hope [he’s hitting a stride] because we need it right now.”
García’s misplay on the line drive led to the Rangers having to use an already struggling bullpen earlier than they would have liked. Spencer Howard, who was supposed to pitch the bulk of innings after Garrett Richards opened, went just 1 2/3 innings after issuing a single and back-to-back walks following the inside-the-park home run.
Brett Martin followed with a swinging strikeout of Guillermo Heredia with the bases loaded to get out of the inning, but the Rangers' pitching struggled as a whole in the loss. Richards gave up a two-run homer in the first inning, Brock Burke gave up a solo shot, and the staff combined for seven walks.
Kolby Allard was the lone bright spot, with one hit and no walks in 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
“We made a lot of silly mistakes and walked a lot of guys,” Woodward said. “Honestly, Brett Martin and Kolby saved us there. Kolby did a great job for us, helped our pitching out a lot, and it gives us a chance to actually pitch guys we didn't have to use today, and gives us a chance tomorrow.”
The game was a microcosm of the season as a whole for the Rangers, who are 6-14 on the year. A taxed bullpen, defensive miscues and a struggling, inconsistent offense has been the story through these first 20 games.
“We haven't been playing great, but today wasn't great at all,” Woodward said. “So we just have to kind of move on and come back. … We gotta get back to just playing baseball. We have a great group. But guys have gotten a little bit tight. And that comes with some of the inexperience because guys are trying to fight for their lives.
“But we’ve got to stop stressing so much. That's on us, that's on me, that's on our staff. We’ve got to just wrap our arms around them and say go play free out there because we're not free right now. You can see they're just locked up a little.”