For a player trying to keep a regular spot in the Brewers’ outfield, Avisaíl García needed a day at the plate like he had on Saturday.
With Milwaukee leading St. Louis by a run in the fifth inning, García smoked a ball to left-center for a two-run home run. The Cardinals pulled within a run an inning later, but García widened the gap to three runs again with a double to the left-field wall in his next at-bat.
Both were García’s first extra-base hits of the season, and both helped lead the Brewers to a 9-5 win at Busch Stadium.
“Feels great to contribute for the team, and it’s big for us,” García said. “We’re here to try to win every single game. That’s what we’re here for, and it feels great, man.”
Disappointed with his performance at the plate in 2020 — when he hit .238 with 49 strikeouts and just two home runs — García said he came into Spring Training more than 30 pounds lighter. This season is also the last one guaranteed on García’s contract, giving him even more incentive to start the season off right.
Through the Brewers’ first seven games, however, things hadn’t started right. García was hitting just .182 with a .364 OPS, and he hadn’t recorded an RBI. He wasn’t getting any luck either, with only two of his nine hard-hit balls going for hits.
But things finally went García’s way on Saturday. He added to his RBI total with a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning, reaching five RBIs in a game for just the third time in his career and the first time since Sept. 14, 2017.
“I think Avi has been swinging the bat pretty well so far,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He hasn’t gotten results yet, but he’s hit a bunch of balls really hard, I’ve thought. Just a day to break through like that at the start of the year is great for your confidence, to feel like you helped the team win. He definitely did that today.”
Saturday was García’s next turn to stake his claim for an outfield spot, and he delivered.
“It doesn’t change anything because we’re here to win games, and I know what I can do for my team — I just have to be ready,” García said about not being in the lineup every day. “I know I’m gonna play. I know all the guys are gonna play. So when it’s my chance, I want to do my 100% and play hard every single game.”
García’s big game came in the middle of a breakout offensive performance for the Brewers.
Heading into Saturday, Milwaukee had scored the third-fewest runs per game in the Majors (2.9). The Brewers’ .510 OPS was last. The starting rotation sported MLB’s fifth-best ERA at 2.35 but held a 1-3 record because of a lack of support from the lineup.
The offense flipped that script against the Cardinals. The Brewers recorded their highest run and hit (13) totals of the season, giving starter Adrian Houser — who pitched five innings, giving up six hits and one unearned run — the boost the staff had been needing.
“It was great to see,” Houser said. “We saw it all Spring Training. The guys were really swinging the bats in Spring Training. Going through that first week of the season but coming out and swinging the bats like they did today was great to see. Hopefully, it’s a sign of better things to come for them.”