Florida International U

This ex-FIU baseball star had a memorable MLB debut Friday for the San Francisco Giants

Former FIU star Aramis Garcia of the San Francisco Giants in his major league debut hits a solo home run against the New York Mets in the bottom of the eighth inning at AT&T Park on August 31, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The home run was his first major league hit.
Former FIU star Aramis Garcia of the San Francisco Giants in his major league debut hits a solo home run against the New York Mets in the bottom of the eighth inning at AT&T Park on August 31, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The home run was his first major league hit. Getty Images

Aramis Garcia had waited his whole life for this moment, and a few extra days on the sideline was not going to dampen his joy.

Garcia, FIU’s former catcher, was called up to the San Francisco Giants for the first time Aug. 25. But he didn’t play in any of the first five Giants games for which he was eligible.

This past Friday, he finally saw his name on the lineup card, starting at catcher and batting eighth.

Garcia faced New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, perhaps the hottest pitcher in the majors with a 1.04 ERA since the All-Star break … and it showed.

Wheeler struck out Garcia on a 97-mph fastball and then on a 90-mph splitter in his first two at-bats.

“The way my first two at-bats went,” Garcia toldmlb.com, “I was just hoping to put something in play.”

Garcia did better than that, catching a break when Wheeler was removed in the eighth inning in favor of reliever Robert Gsellman. Garcia then pounced on a 2-1 pitch — a 93-mph Gsellman fastball — pulling it over the fence in left field.

Later in that six-run 8th inning, Garcia hit an RBI single off reliever Drew Smith, drilling a 2-2 curveball.

Garcia thus became the first San Francisco Giants player to get his first two major-league hits in the same inning.

“That was incredible,” Garcia said. “I’m so thankful.”

But Garcia’s big debut was about more than just offense. He also caught a shutout as the Giants beat the Mets 7-0.

San Francisco’s starting pitcher on Friday was Andrew Suarez, the former Columbus High and Miami Hurricanes left-hander.

Suarez had perhaps his best game of the year throwing to Garcia, who was his rival in college (Miami-FIU) but his teammate in summer travel ball with the Florida Legends.

“I love the way [Garcia] calls a game,” Suarez told mlb.com. “I told [Garcia], ‘Nothing has changed.’ It was the same game plan. I shook him off just twice all game.”

Garcia said it put him “at ease” knowing that he would be working with Suarez.

“To have him pitching in my first start was awesome,” Garcia said. “We’ve been working together since high school.”

Garcia, who was called up after Giants All-Star catcher Buster Posey went out due to hip surgery, made his debut the same day San Francisco traded All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen was traded to the New York Yankees.

Clearly, this was a chance for the Giants to get a glimpse of their future

Garcia, who got the ball he hit for the homer back from the fan who retrieved it — exchanging two bats, a signed ball and batting gloves — was grateful he could share his big night with his family.

“I’m here because of them,” said Garcia, who gave his home run ball to his father, Jose. “Seeing my family’s reaction on the big board for a few seconds was awesome. To see my family in tears was emotional.

“You dream of reaching the majors, making your family proud. To also get a shutout and two hits is special.”

THIS AND THAT

Former FIU linebacker Anthony Wint, an undrafted rookie free agent, was cut by the New York Jets on Saturday. But the Jets signed him to their practice squad on Sunday.

Former FIU quarterback Alex McGough, a rookie seventh-round pick, was cut by the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday but was expected to also make their practice roster.

FIU’s women’s volleyball team is off to a 5-1 start. Freshmen Abbie Hughes (from Ohio) and Ronja Klinger (Austria) are among the early-season standouts.

The men’s soccer team, which reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, is off to a poor start at 0-3, falling to Stetson 3-2 in Friday’s home opener. Stetson snapped FIU’s 12-match home unbeaten streak.

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