ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Adolis García was in the on-deck circle with three home runs and one more good chance to try for a fourth while Josh Sborz was making a rare plate appearance for a Texas pitcher.
“Yeah, he had orders not to swing the bat,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said of the right-handed reliever.
Sborz followed those orders, taking three strikes on four 55-plus mph sliders from Oakland infielder Jace Peterson with the Rangers on their way to an 18-3 victory Saturday night.
Looking to match the major league record for home runs in a game, García’s second chance at his fourth of the night ended the same way as the first: a double. The first two-bagger — in the seventh inning — drove in two runs, just as all three homers had.
The 30-year-old slugger from Cuba finished with a career-high eight RBIs to go with his first three-homer game. He has seven homers and 28 RBIs this season.
García launched two-run shots in the first, third and fifth — all at least 400 feet — as the Rangers built a 13-2 lead. The two-run double in the seventh made it 15-2.
García’s 432-foot drive into the second deck in left field came in the first inning of Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami’s fourth career start for Oakland.
After the first homer, García was hit on the left arm by the first pitch from Fujinami in the second inning, a 97 mph fastball. Plate umpire Jordan Baker quickly stepped in front of García, who appeared upset but walked to first base without any words exchanged with the pitcher.
García cleared the center-field wall on a 419-foot drive off reliever Adrián Martinez in the third. Texas’ cleanup hitter went deep off Martinez again in the fifth, 401 feet into the Oakland bullpen in left-center.
It was the first three-homer game for García and the first for the Rangers since Ronald Guzmán connected three times at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 10, 2018.
“It was an incredible night,” García said through an interpreter. “I didn’t expect something like this to happen, but I’m really blessed and thankful for it.”
Sborz had to bat with a runner at first and one out in the eighth because designated hitter Brad Miller had taken over at first base with the game out of hand.
After Sborz did his duty — even though Bochy said the reliever wanted to swing the bat — García saw five of the same pitches at roughly the same speed from Peterson, lining the last one down the line in left field.
“It’s difficult when somebody tries to pitch a little bit slower,” Garcia said. “My timing isn’t very good, but I wanted the home run in that at-bat. The double’s just as good, so I’ll take it.”
The last double from García could have scored Travis Jankowski, but he jogged to third, preserving Hall of Famer Iván Rodríguez’s club record of nine RBIs in a game set in 1999.
“We were all waiting in anticipation,” Bochy said of García’s last two at-bats. “He’s got a chance to make history, and it’s pretty cool. You get two doubles, that’s not too shabby, either. Total bases equals the four home runs.”
García went 5 for 5 and became just the third player since 1901 with at least 16 total bases, three homers, eight RBIs and five runs in a game. Washington’s Anthony Rendon (2017) and Brooklyn’s Gil Hodges (1950) were the others.
“You just don’t see that often,” Bochy said. “What he did tonight, it’s impressive. It’s fun to watch great athletes when they get locked in like tonight. We were all pulling for him to get one more.”
García had the second three-homer game in the majors this season. Trayce Thompson of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit three in a 10-1 win over Arizona on April 1.
The previous Texas player with eight RBIs in a game was Nelson Cruz on May 25, 2012, at Toronto. The club record of nine is held by Ivan Rodriguez.
García said he also hit three homers in a Triple-A game in 2018. Oh, and he said he had eight RBIs in that one, too.
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