CHICAGO – Winning games in their last at-bat has become one of the fun characteristics of what’s been a strong 2021 regular season for the White Sox – even when it comes not in the best of circumstances.
Sunday was another one of those examples, and a new hero emerged at Guaranteed Rate Field.
After Craig Kimbrel failed to get the save in the bottom of the ninth inning, Leury Garcia saved the day with a longball. With two out in the bottom half of the inning, he took an 0-2 pitch deep to center and over the wall for the game-winning solo homer.
It marked the eighth time the White Sox have won a game in walk-off fashion this season and was the first time that Garcia had done so with a long ball in his career. It’s also the fourth time a home run has served as the walk-off hit, with this one being the first since Tim Anderson’s game-winner in the Field of Dreams Game on August 12th.
“I knew I hit it good, but it was center field. I’m like ‘You better go,'” said Garcia when asked if he knew it was gone when he hit it.
The ball ended up clearing the wall by a few feet as the utility player gleefully rounded the bases then met with his teammates for the celebration at homeplate. It’s one that’s become familiar for the club as they continue to creep closer to their first American League Central division title since 2008.
As of Monday afternoon, the “Magic Number” sits at nine and will stay that way with both the White Sox and second place Cleveland having the evening off.
It’ was a moment that’s special for Garcia, who has put in yeoman’s work to help fill in at a number of positions in the 2021 season as the White Sox have dealt with numberous injuries. He’s made appearances at six different positions, including every outfield spot and all but first base in the infield.
Garcia’s hit .258/.331/.368 with five homers and 49 RBI while sporting at least a .950 fielding percentage at each position.
Sunday’s walk-off moment may have topped it all for a player who’s done everything he can to put the White Sox in a spot to clinch playoff spots in back-to-back seasons for the first time.
“It feels great, man, it feels great,” said Garcia of the walk-off homer. “Especially playing at home, this is one of the best moments for me so far.”