The man Robin Ventura was looking for had one hit in his last 25 at-bats.
But that didn't stop the White Sox manager from pinch hitting utilityman Leury Garcia with the game-winning run on third in the ninth inning Wednesday. And Garcia rewarded his skipper's faith by delivering a walk-off single, netting the White Sox a 3-2 win over the Angels in front of 18,207 on an unseasonably chilly, rainy night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Against a five-man infield, Garcia laced a 2-1 fastball from Angels reliever Mike Morin into left to score Alejandro De Aza and keep his team from getting swept.
"I was ready to run," Garcia laughed. "But (Ventura) told me I was going to hit, so I said, 'OK, let's go.'"
With left-handers in De Aza and Conor Gillaspie delivering singles before right-hander Moises Sierra was due up, going to a lefty made sense for Ventura. That left him with two realistic options: Garcia or Adam Dunn.
With an infield soaked by a rather heavy mist that began about 30 minutes before first pitch, Ventura wanted someone who not only could slap the ball on the ground but whose speed and bunting ability had to be respected.
"Once you get first and third, you put in a situation where maybe they’re thinking of a bunt or something can get away, so going with contact there," Ventura said. "He had a good at-bat. He got something he could hit in there. They went with a five-man infield, so even hitting something at that point to get it through the infield isn’t all that easy. I think he was surprised in that spot to be pinch-hitting, but he’s going to make some contact."
Prior to singling in the fifth inning of the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader, Garcia was mired in an 0-22 rut. He only went 1-5 with two strikeouts against the Angels on Tuesday and struck out in about 30 percent of his plate appearances entering Wednesday's game.
Garcia had the option to lay down a bunt but went to the plate looking for a fastball -- and after taking three straight fastballs to work a 2-1 count, jumped on the fourth one Morin threw.
Garcia's walk-off capped off a night of excellent pitching by both starters. John Danks tied a career high with 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings, while Tyler Skaggs threw 70 of his 87 pitches for strikes. Both left-handers only allowed two runs, with the White Sox plating both on an Alexei Ramirez single in the fourth and the Angels scoring on solo home runs by David Freese in the seventh and Josh Hamilton in the eighth.
Hamilton's blast tied the game, but the White Sox put together a two-out scoring rally in the bottom of the eighth that ended when Dayan Viciedo flew out with runners on the corners. That turned out to be a prelude to Garcia's ninth-inning heroics.
"It's fun to watch these guys go to battle," Danks said. "It was kind of a punch in the gut when Hamilton hit the homer but it seems like it didn't really faze these guys too much. Glad to be a part of it and happy that the guys rallied in the ninth."