Damaso Garcia hit a two-run home run in the second inning Friday night at Toronto to continue his hot streak and climax a four-run rally that led the Blue Jays to a 6-5 victory over the Oakland A's.
For the last 21 games, or since batting coach Cito Gaston convinced him to use a lighter bat, Garcia has been on a rampage.
The veteran second baseman, who recently became the first Blue Jay to reach the 1,000-hit plateau, has hit safely in 20 of the 21 games. He is 36 for 82 and has raised his average from .237 to .301.
It took persistence on Gaston's part and the early slump to get Garcia to throw away his 33-ounce bat in favor of a 31-ouncer.
"Sometimes, it's that simple," Gaston told the Associated Press. "He's a pure contact hitter. Now he doesn't have to worry about getting that big bat out in front. He can wait that extra bit longer and as a result is seeing the ball better."
Gaston got the idea in spring training when Garcia, after breaking his bat, picked up a Tony Fernandez 31-ounce bat and started hitting the ball "all over the place."
"I kept talking to him about it," Gaston said.
When Garcia's average fell to .237, he finally got the message.
His home run gave him a string of five consecutive hits. Thursday night he was 4 for 4.
Relief pitcher Mark Eichorn (7-3) pitched 3 innings to get the victory. Tom Henke struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth to pick up his 14th save of the season. If he gets one more save this season, Henke will tie the club record. If he gets four more, the big right-hander, who joined the club last July 28, will be the all-time Blue Jay save leader with 32.
Cleveland 7, Texas 2--Knuckleballer Tom Candiotti effectively scattered eight hits at Cleveland to pitch his league-leading eighth complete game and drop the Rangers 2 1/2 games behind the Angels in the West.
It was the fifth win in a row for Candiotti. He has an 8-6 record, having gone the distance in every victory.
Texas center fielder Oddibe McDowell made a wild throw to third base in the second inning to end a string of 126 consecutive games without an error.
Andre Thornton drove in three runs for the Indians and Mel Hall hit his 16th home run.
Baltimore 4, Chicago 2--Ken Dixon struck out a career-high 13 batters and gave up only five hits in 8 innings at Chicago. At one stage, he struck out six in a row, just two off the league record first set by Nolan Ryan when he was with the Angels.
Cal Ripken hit his 13th home run and drove in two runs for the Orioles. Don Aase, although he gave up a run-scoring single, got the final out to earn his 23rd save.
New York 9, Minnesota 3--Doug Drabek gave up only three hits in six innings at Minneapolis to win his first major league game. Mike Pagliarulo hit a three-run home run to help make it easy for Drabek (1-2).
Don Mattingly had three doubles, and Joe Pasqua also homered as the Yankees jumped on Neal Heaton, who gave up nine hits and six runs despite striking out 10 in 7 innings.
The victory moved the Yankees seven games behind Boston in the East.
Seattle 9, Milwaukee 3--The rainy weather in Milwaukee seems to agree with the Mariners. They won, 4-1, Thursday night despite three delays that totaled almost four hours.
This one was delayed 90 minutes at the start. Danny Tartabull hit a two-run home run, and Phil Bradley drove in three runs.
Kansas City 4-7, Detroit 3-8--After Frank White hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Royals the victory in the opener of a doubleheader at Kansas City, the Tigers fought back to get a split.
Dave Engle singled with one out in the 11th to score Kirk Gibson from third base with the winning run. Dave Collins hit his first home run of the season, a two-run blast, to get the Tigers even in the eighth, 7-7.
Bret Saberhagen, who has had a tough season, pitched seven strong innings in the opener. He struck out 7 Tigers while giving up 5 hits and only 2 earned runs.