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Avisail Garcia, Chicago White Sox hand Minnesota Twins first loss of 2017 season

By
Brian Sandalow, The Sports Xchange
Chicago White Sox's Avisail Garcia reacts during an at-bat. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Chicago White Sox's Avisail Garcia reacts during an at-bat. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox have been waiting for Avisail Garcia to become a productive player.

On Saturday, he took another step toward that reaching goal.

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Garcia hit a home run and came within a double of the cycle as the White Sox beat Minnesota 6-2 to hand the Twins their first loss of the season.

Garcia's two-run homer in the sixth inning was his first and gave Chicago a 5-2 lead. The White Sox went back-to-back when Geovany Soto lined Justin Haley's pitch over the fence in left field for his third home run of the season.

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Garcia also had a second-inning triple as the White Sox scored once in the first and twice in the second before the outburst in the sixth.

"I think every player is trying to prove themselves every single day," Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. "I know it's a cliche, but everybody's trying to always perform on a daily basis."

Garcia has been a source of frustration for Chicago as his development has stalled. Though it's early, he's shown signs he could be ready to break through in 2017. Garcia, who is 8-for-16 with 13 total bases and has driven in four runs, might be reaping the benefits of an improved diet and offseason regimen.

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"It's been great. I feel more alive," Garcia said. "I lost a lot of weight and I feel more alive and more confident."

Miguel Gonzalez (1-0) pitched six innings and allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out six for Chicago. Gonzalez, who went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA for Chicago last season, picked up where he left off in 2016 after ending last season 3-2 with a 2.76 ERA over his final five starts.

Pitching for the first time in seven days, Gonzalez was able to shake off the rust in his first start of the year.

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"After having seven days off, it was a little tough but I was able to minimize damage and be under control after that and just started rolling," Gonzalez said. "I think Soto did a really good job back there changing speeds in that first inning. That kept me in the game."

Minnesota, which was trying to start a season 5-0 for the first time since 1968, had to go to its bullpen early.

Rookie Adalberto Mejia (0-1) struggled while making his first career start and second appearance. He lasted 1 2/3 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) and two hits while walking two and hitting a batter. To start the second, he walked Todd Frazier on a 14-pitch at-bat.

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"That's the nature of the game up here," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "These guys are going to grind against you, and once you do that, you take a breath and try to go after the next guy."

Mejia didn't blame that at-bat for what happened the rest of his outing.

"It didn't take anything out of me," Mejia said through a translator. "I just had to focus and make sure I was throwing strikes and I was doing that up on the mound."

Mejia, however, wasn't helped by the Twins' defense.

Minnesota, which was praised by Molitor before the game for its clean play, made two errors, and one in the second directly led to a run. With Garcia at third, Soto missed on a squeeze and appeared to strand Garcia between home and the base. But Garcia scored when Jason Castro bobbled the toss home from Miguel Sano, who couldn't tag Garcia.

"We talk about having some pretty clean games here the first four," Molitor said. "Today was a different story. We made some mistakes and they made us pay."

Castro's two-run homer in the sixth was his first of the season and briefly pulled Minnesota to within 3-2.

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Byron Buxton, who had a pregame meeting Molitor and was dropped to the No. 7 spot in the Minnesota lineup, was 1-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts. Buxton is 2-for-22 with 13 strikeouts this season.

NOTES: Via Skype before Saturday's game, Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, RHP Kyle Gibson and 2B Brian Dozier took part in "Arise With the Guys," an annual prayer service for men at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., where athletes share their life stories. ... The White Sox signed OF Ryan Raburn and assigned him to Triple-A Charlotte. ... On Sunday, Minnesota starts RHP Ervin Santana (1-0, 1.29 ERA) against Chicago's Jose Quintana (0-1, 10.13). Quintana, who was expected to be traded sometime this season as the White Sox continue to rebuild, surrendered three home runs on Tuesday against Detroit to tie a career high.

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