(BaseballStL) — There’s a lot of ways to win a game, but the Cardinals and rookie Greg Garcia found one of the rarer ones Tuesday night.
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Just before the clock struck midnight, the Cardinals managed to load the bases in the 12th inning against the Cubs’ Justin Grimm. After holding their first lead of the series until two outs in the top of the ninth, players in the St. Louis dugout found themselves 90 feet away from their first extra-innings win of the season in the 12th.
Enter Greg Garcia, a recent call up from AAA Memphis, and the Cardinals’ third pinch hitter of the game.
“He came up aggressive,” said Mike Matheny after the game. “That’s what you need to do in that situation, and then we needed a little help.”
Garcia certainly came to swing, taking two healthy cuts right out of the gate. After Jhonny Peralta singled, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina had walked following a Matt Holliday strike out. The bags had no vacancies and Garcia was taking cuts like a man who didn’t mean to stay the night anyway.
“I just tried to jump on a fastball. I felt like I put a pretty good swing on the first pitch, kind of just fouled it off,” he said. “Then next pitch was a little cutter kind of thing and he kind of threw it by me.”
Knowing he had to put a ball in play, Garcia shortened up and entered what he described as “grind mode,” making sure he put together a quality at bat. After a slider from Grimm hit the dirt, the night presented an unexpected opportunity to Garcia with Grimm’s next offering.
‘I kind of saw the pitch out of his hand and knew it was in,” he said. “Then it was getting closer to the plate and I knew it had a chance to hit me and I’m wearing that one 100 percent of the time.”
The 24-year-old wore the pitch like he was born in it, taking the ball off his right elbow and trotting to first with a game-winning RBI. Though it may not have been the walk off of childhood dreams, Garcia said it wasn’t any less intentional.
“Right there my instinct was to get hit. I wanted to get hit, I knew the game was over when I saw that pitch coming at me there was no doubt in my mind I was going to get hit right there,” he said.
Strangely enough, it’s not something new to the young infielder. In his short time in the bigs, Garcia seems to be a ball magnet. Even veteran Adam Wainwright has taken notice.
“What has he had seven at bats and he’s been hit three times?” he chuckled. “He’s got a knack for it.” The 32-year-old is close in his estimation. Garcia’s third HBP came in his 11th at bat. Impressively, he has even more than that in the majors, having taken a ball off the body in batting practice when he first came up to St. Louis.
“I don’t know what it is about it up here,” he laughed Tuesday. “I’m either just not getting out of the way or something, but I just want to get on base any way I can.”