CHICAGO | The kids need more polish and precision, but they belong in the big leagues with the White Sox.
That was the verdict going into Saturday night as center fielder Avisail Garcia and right-hander Andre Rienzo balanced stumbles with moments of promise in their first home starts. Both contributed as the Sox squeezed out a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
After making his Sox debut late in Friday night’s Game 2 of a split doubleheader, Garcia touched off a two-run, go-ahead rally in the sixth with a leadoff single up the middle, his first Sox hit.
He also got caught looking at a third strike with runners on first and third and none out in the seventh.
Meanwhile, in his third Sox start overall, Rienzo – the first Brazilian pitcher in the majors – battled both control problems and ill-timed gopher-ball pitches.
He gave up four runs on two homers in the third, but showed poise by battling out of other jams in four other innings.
One of Garcia’s shortest swings of the day was his most effective in the sixth.
“I was looking for a (pitch) to put into play and don’t try to do too much,” Garcia said. “I’m happy for that because we won.”
Manager Robin Ventura knows Garcia is eager to fit into the lineup.
“He’s probably a little antsy to do something,” Ventura said.
Rienzo is antsy to deliver his pitches, but several Twins batters early on appeared to step out to slow him down.
“I like to be quick (to the plate), but (batter step-outs) don’t affect me,” he said.
When informed he had issued 11 walks in his three starts, he agreed he needed to tighten his control on his fastball.
“It’s really bad,” he said. “I showed better control (in the minor leagues). Bad games make you work harder for the next time.”
Garcia batted sixth in the most unusual Sox lineup of the now-lost season. Gordon Beckham led off, followed by Conor Gillaspie and Alexei Ramirez.
Rienzo is still looking for his first big-league victory after two previous, and more impressive, starts in which he allowed only two earned runs in 13 innings.
“He’s got the package and now we’re looking for more and more strikes from each one of his pitches,” said Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. “Now he’s got to mix that package up well. The first three pitches are the key.”