Greg Garcia becomes first active player with Hawaii ties to clinch playoff spot in 2020 MLB season


San Diego Padres second baseman Greg Garcia throws to first base during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in San Diego, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. The Padres won 13-2. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

With a shortened 60-game 2020 MLB regular season nearly coming to an end, the playoff picture has started to form.

Both leagues have eight playoff spots. Five teams in the American League have already clinched a spot while two teams in the National League have punched their playoff tickets.

With one week remaining in the regular season, Greg Garcia of the San Diego Padres is currently the only active player with Hawaii ties to clinch a playoff spot. At 34-20, the Padres clinched with an 11-inning, 7-4 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. It is the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2006.

Kauai’s Kirby Yates is also on the San Diego Padres roster but remains sidelined with an elbow injury and is unlikely to return this season.

Garica, who played for the University of Hawaii from 2008 to 2010, has played sparingly for the Padres this year, going hitting .235 (12-for-51) at the plate. However, to Padres manager Jayce Tingler, his veteran presence has been instrumental to a talented but young team.

As a native of nearby El Cajon, Garcia was asked what clinching a playoff spot for his hometown team would mean on Saturday.

The Padres are four games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (38-16) in the NL West standings. Barring a late losing streak by the Dodgers, the Padres are likely to be the No. 4 seed in the NL playoff bracket. Although the Padres currently have the second best record in the NL, the top three seeds are reserved for the division winners.

Here are how the other players in the MLB with Hawaii ties performed this past week, as well as where their respective teams stand:

Kolten Wong, second baseman, St. Louis Cardinals (Kamehameha-Hawaii and University of Hawaii): Wong played in seven games in a span of five games this week, including two doubleheaders. He went 5-for-25 at the plate in those games but also hit his first home run of the year with a leadoff shot on Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cardinals have won their last three games and are currently the No. 6 seed in the National League at 26-24.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, third base, Texas Rangers (Mid-Pacific): Kiner-Falefa’s hot bat cooled off this week, as he went 1-for-19. However, he’s still hitting .324 for the month of September and .290 for the season. The Rangers have lost three games in a row and are at the bottom of the American League standings at 19-34. With one week left to play, the Rangers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Kurt Suzuki, catcher, Washington Nationals (Baldwin): Suzuki played in four games this week, including a 2-for-4 performance at the plate with three RBIs and his second home run of the season in a 15-0 win over the Marlins on Sunday. At 20-32, the Nationals are still mathematically alive in the playoff race but would require a miracle to stay in contention. It is likely that they will become eliminated from playoff contention in the coming days.

Josh Rojas, utility, Arizona Diamondbacks (University of Hawaii): Rojas led off four games this week, going 2-for-22 at the plate this week. He’s currently hitting .180 for the season. The Diamondbacks are currently 20-34 and eliminated from playoff contention.

Rico Garcia, pitcher, San Francisco Giants (Hawaii Pacific): Garcia appeared in two games this week, pitching a scoreless inning of relief against the Seattle Mariners both times. On Thursday, he earned his first career win after pitching a scoreless sixth. The Giants seized the lead after the seventh inning in a 6-4 victory. At 26-26, the Giants are one of three .500 teams battling for the last wild card spot in the National League playoff race.

Other players with Hawaii ties in MLB 60-man player pools:

Jordan Yamamoto, starting pitcher, Miami Marlins (Saint Louis)

David Freitas, catcher, Milwaukee Brewers (University of Hawaii)

Joey Cantillo, pitcher, Cleveland Indians (Kailua)

Kodi Medeiros, pitcher, Chicago White Sox (Waiakea)

Inactive players with Hawaii ties on MLB rosters:

Kirby Yates, closer, San Diego Padres (Kauai)

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