Two days after the Tigers sent him back to Triple-A, Avisail Garcia put together a game to remember on Sunday.
Garcia tripled in the eighth inning to become the first Mud Hen to hit for the cycle in more than six years as Toledo held on for a 9-7 victory over Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field.
"It's something he'll never forget and it's something I'll never forget," Mud Hens skipper Phil Nevin said. "This is the first time for me as a manager that one of my players has hit for the cycle. It's a credit to the work he puts in. He plays hard, and good things are going to happen to a player like him."
Garcia went 4-for-5, scored four times and drove in three runs on his way to the Mud Hens' first cycle since Ryan Raburn performed the feat on May 27, 2007. It was the second cycle of the season in the International League after Buffalo's Jim Negrych produced one on April 18.
The 22-year-old outfielder led off the bottom of the first with a double, then homered to start the third.
"The home run was a shot," Nevin said. "You don't see many home runs to right-center here. He has tremendous power, especially to the opposite field."
With the score tied, 4-4, Garcia lined an opposite-field single in the fifth, stole second and continued to third on an errant throw by Indians catcher and Pirates No. 14 prospect Tony Sanchez.
Nick Castellanos, the Tigers' top-ranked prospect plated Garcia with a double.
In the seventh, Garcia was called out on a check swing. Nevin, who described the call as "questionable," was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Seth Buckminster.
When Garcia came up with one out and runners on the corners and the Mud Hens leading, 6-4, in the eighth, Nevin was watching on a clubhouse television. The outfielder fouled off the first pitch of the at-bat and sent the second into left-center field for the historic triple.
"If the game is close in that situation, I won't try [for the triple]," Garcia told The (Toledo) Blade. "But in that situation, with my team winning, I was going to try for it. And I did it."
"Those were big runs for us, too," Nevin noted. "Where we were at in the game, with a team that had been trailing us pretty well, it was important to get those runs late. I probably wouldn't have known what was going on if I wasn't ejected. ... Honestly, I didn't know he only needed a triple for the cycle until the announcers said it."
Nevin pointed out the significance of the Mud Hens' third win in four games, then quickly returned to Garcia.
"When the dust settles, this is the kind of thing you don't forget for the rest of your playing career," the former Major League All-Star said. "'Hey, I hit for the cycle' -- not many players get to say that."
Demoted on Friday, Garcia singled, doubled and drove in a run the following night. After earning a spot on the Tigers' postseason roster last fall, he was hitting .241 and mired in a 1-for-17 slump at the time of his reassignment.
"I've seen him for several years now. There's a chance for him to be a very special player," said Nevin. "We think very highly of him. That's obvious enough when as a 21-year-old kid he gets a start in two World Series games. He's come down a couple times, and each time he has a positive attitude. He loves playing the game, no matter where he's playing it at."
The four-hit night lifted Garcia's Triple-A batting average to .483 in 13 games.
"It doesn't matter what level of baseball Avisail Garcia is playing at, he goes out with the same approach and the same attitude every game," Nevin said. "I managed him in the instructional league a few years back when he was 18, and it was the same thing -- he always has a smile on his face and is excited to play baseball.
"Plenty of guys come down with an attitude. Everybody's got an I-got-screwed story, and this kid never mentions anything about being disappointed or not getting the chance to play. He couldn't get here in time to play the game when they sent him down two games ago, and he was very apologetic. He has a right to miss three games [after an assignment]. That's the kind of player that he is. I've had players that come down and take their three-day vacation just because they're [ticked] off about having been sent down."
Castellanos finished with two hits and two RBIs, while Argenis Diaz was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs.