ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers may have lost 100 games this season, but they may have the American League Rookie of the Year on their team.
The Rangers defeated the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday by a score of 7-6, coming back from a 5-0 deficit in the first inning of the game. Adolis García played a key role in the comeback as he hit his 31st home run of the season, a two-run shot that pulled the Rangers within a run, 6-5.
In the bigger picture, the homer was also big for García's legacy in Rangers history. With one swing, García broke Pete Incaviglia's record for both home runs and RBI by a rookie in a single season. García's 90 RBI also leads all Major League rookies this season.
"I knew when I hit it, I made really good contact," García said through an interpreter. "That moment is a really special moment for me."
García's record-tying homer came on September 14, giving him plenty of time to hit just one more to set the record himself. Prior to Thursday's game, Rangers manager Chris Woodward said the pressure of trying to hit a record-setting homer may have been forcing García to press just a little bit.
"Maybe. I'm sure he's aware of it. It's a tough thing, to try to force a homer. I've seen a lot of guys back in the day be stuck on 39 homers trying to hit that 40th or stuck on 29 while trying to be a 30/30 guy. It's difficult. He's got four games left. I was hoping that one he hit to right center last night was enough. He just missed it. It was a good swing, and that's kind of what I anticipate when he hits one. It's gonna be to right center or to right field. When he's doing that, he's in a good spot. It's definitely weighing on him. But it's part of baseball. You're gonna have to just stick with your plan and approach, use the whole field, look for a ball out over the plate that you can drive, so that way you can stay on the breaking balls and stay in the strike zone. That's probably the biggest thing for him. I know we've talked about it a lot, but that's typically when he gets a little bit ahead of himself, when he starts expanding. Hopefully he can stay in the strike zone, get a good pitch and do it today."
"I wasn't pressured to get it done, but I felt a little anxious to get it done," García said. "But I'm very thankful. I'm very proud of what I've accomplished. I've worked really hard the past few years. To be able to get a lot of these things done is very special to me."
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Rangers starter Glenn Otto struggled mightily in the first inning. He was forced to throw 41 pitches as the Angels batted around for five runs in the frame. Otto only made it through two innings on the day. Chris Woodward did not seem concerned about Otto, saying he has thrown a lot of innings this year and that he was "out of gas."
DJ Peters took a big chunk out of the Angels 5-0 lead in the third inning with a three-run bomb to center field. Peters still has to find some consistency in order to stick in the lineup for the Rangers next season, but his potential has shown through over the past month and a half. Since August 10, Peters leads the Rangers with 34 RBI over 44 games, and it is the eighth-most in Major League Baseball over that span.
After the Angels added a run in the fifth inning to give them a 6-3 advantage, García hit his two-run homer to pull the Rangers within a run. Then in the eighth inning, after Nick Solak and DJ Peters reached base with one out, Brock Holt hit a liner that hit off the wall in right field, driving in the tying and go-ahead runs.
In the ninth inning, Joe Barlow came in and slammed the door shut for his 11th save of the season. In 29 innings this season, Barlow has a remarkable 1.55 ERA and 0.83 WHIP.
The Rangers (59-100) welcome the Cleveland Indians to town on Friday for the final series of the 2021 season. Cleveland enters play on Thursday with a 77-81 record. For the Rangers, Spencer Howard (0-4, 5.27 ERA) will start on Friday, Jordan Lyles (9-13, 5.31 ERA) will take the ball on Saturday and Dane Dunning (5-9, 4.32 ERA) will start the season finale on Sunday afternoon.
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