This time his drama-packed 11th inning walk-off home run put the cap on a 6-5 comeback victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Garcia claimed squatter’s rights on the basepaths. He was on base five times with three hits, a walk and he was hit by a pitch, putting him in the middle of every Rangers rally.
And he never paused on the basepaths in the 11th inning, circling the bases while the fans exalted with an uproarious salute.
There was one out and nobody on in the 11th when Arizona brought in Miguel Castro to face Garcia.
Castro’s first pitch displayed his nervousness when it was three feet outside and crashed against the back wall, or as Bob Uecker says it, “Just a bit outside.”
Castro went to 3-and-1 on the tall, muscular right fielder. Garcia took a low-and-away pitch the opposite way, driving it into the front row of the right field seats, his eighth post-season home run this year.
In his previous at bat in the ninth inning, Garcia was hit on the left arm with a fastball, but he rubbed it, took first base and stayed in the game.
“He tried to pitch me inside and I got lucky, nothing hurt. It didn’t hurt,” said Garcia, who put the big hurt on the Diamondbacks.
Garcia getting hit was anticlimactic as to what happened earlier in the ninth. Corey Seager, a former World Series MVP, was responsible for sending the game spinning into extra innings.
The Rangers trailed, 5-3, and were facing Arizona closer Paul Sewald, six-for-six in save situations during the post-season.
Sewald tempted the baseball gods by issuing a five-pitch leadoff walk to No. 9 hitter Leody Taveras. Sewald recovered quickly by striking out Marcus Semien.
Seager was in the batter’s box for one pitch, and he dispatched it deep into the night and deep into the seats, 411 feet from home plate, a two-run game-tying home run.
“That was the best moment of the game,” said Garcia. “That fired me up.”
It was a night when both starting pitchers were forced to scratch and scramble.
Arizona starter Zac Gallen, who has struggled most of the playoffs, gave up two runs in the first inning with Garcia providing a run-scoring single.
Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi, seeking a record-setting fifth post-season victory, retired the first six D-Backs, the last four via strikeouts.
But Arizona lived up to its alternate nickname, the Answerbacks. After going 1-2-3 in the second inning, all three via strikeouts, the D-Backs displayed how they play the game.
An infield hit, a single, a rarely employed sacrifice bunt, a two-run triple by soon-to-be named NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll and a fielder’s choice pushed Arizona in front, 3-2.
It was Arizona-style baseball. The D-Backs had an assortment of infield hits, four stolen bases and some early clutch hitting. They have successfully stolen 17 straight bases.
Texas tied it in the home third and Garcia was in the midst of it. He drew a walk to fill the bases and Mitch Garver drew a walk that forced in a run to tie it, 3-3.
Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham quickly untied it leading off the top of the fourth with a second-pitch home run and Arizona was back on top, 4-3.
“This team plays small ball and I tried it in the NLCS but it didn’t work,” said Pham. “So I’m going back to my long ball approach.”
Arizona added another run in the fifth when Geraldo Perdomo singled, stole second and scored on Ketel Marte’s double, extending his post-season hitting streak to 17 straight games.
Eovaldi was gone after 4 2/3 innings — five runs, six hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. Gallen was gone after five innings — three runs, four hits, four walks, five strikeouts.
After the fourth inning, it became a Battle of the Bullpens. Ryan Thompson. Joe Mantiply and Kevin Ginkel each pitched a scoreless inning to protect Arizona’s 5-3 lead, but Sewald and Castro couldn’t duplicate.
And they couldn’t match the Texas bullpen. It retired the last 10 Diamondbacks in order and 17 of the last 18.
The bullpen who held on until Seager and Garcia could pull it out were Dane Dunning, Cody Bradford, Jon Gray, Will Smith and closer Jose Leclerc, who pitched the last two perfect innings.
The Rangers believe Smith is their personal four-leaf clover. He pitched for the 2021 Atlanta Braves and the 2022 Houston Astros, both teams that won the World Series.
It was the first extra-inning game of the post-season. For the playoffs and World Series, the free runner placed on second base to start each half-inning of tie games after the ninth inning that was used during the regular season is not being used.