When Peninsula Oilers second baseman Danny Garcia arrived in Anchorage on June 23 at about 11 a.m., his mind could have been on a lot of things.
He could have been dazed from the day-long nightmare he had flying to Alaska due to complications created by President Clinton's tying up the airport in Phoenix.
He could have been thinking about sleep because he had managed less than two hours the night before.
Or, he could have been thinking about where his baggage was.
But Garcia was focused on one thing -- Peninsula's 1:10 p.m. game that day against the Anchorage Glacier Pilots -- and due to that the Oilers haven't been the same since.
After losing its first two Alaska Baseball League games, Peninsula started a six-game winning streak the day Garcia arrived in Anchorage.
The Oilers will look to push their streak to seven straight today when Soldotna's Chris Mabeus (1-0, 2.11 ERA) takes the hill against the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks at 2 p.m. at Coral Seymour Memorial Park.
"When I called (Oilers manager) Gary (Adcock) the night before to tell him about the missed connections, he told me to just get a hotel and wait until the next day," Garcia said. "I told him I still wanted to play the next day.
"He said I was crazy."
However, when Garcia arrived after the travel ordeal and immediately threw on some eye black and borrowed cleats for the game, he gave the team new energy.
"Any time a kid is that excited about playing, it's going to have an effect on the team," Adcock said. "They've got to be thinking, 'This guy got two hours sleep and he's out here high-fiving everybody.'"
Garcia was the offensive MVP of the 1999 Oilers unit that won the Alaska Baseball League and finished second at the National Baseball Congress World Series.
So, in addition to leadership, he brings a powerful bat. Even though he's played in six of the Oilers' 21 games, he already is tied for third on the team with 11 runs. He's hitting .400 with seven walks and has stolen five of six on the basepaths.
"He's helped us set the top of our order," Adcock said. "The top five guys come to the park knowing where they'll be hitting each day."
The top five is, in order, Garcia, Jeremy Reed (.352, 20 runs, 14 RBIs), Randall Shelley (.326, 12 runs), Michael Falco (13 RBIs) and Jeff Jones (.403, 11 runs, 17 RBIs).
What's more, those five maintained those numbers through the most difficult part of the schedule. Because the Oilers play seven games at the Hawaii Island Movers, they get two road games and four home games against the rest of the ABL.
With that last road trip in the books at 6-2, the only remaining league road games are the ones in Hawaii.
"I would have been happy at 5-3, or maybe even 4-4," Adcock said of the trip. "It's always tough on the road in this league.
"Now, we have to play well at home."
While the Oilers hot hitting was the big story in the latter half of the trip, Adcock also is happy with the way the pitching staff is taking shape.
"In the past, we've had four guys who could start and a fifth who could maybe start in the right matchup," Adcock said. "This year, I'm confident starting any of them."
As of yet, the Oilers haven't had a true No. 1 starter emerge, but the season is young and Andy Perkins may claim that distinction soon. He is 1-0 with a 0.47 ERA.
The Oilers also don't have a pitcher filling the classic closer's role, but Adcock does not see that as a bad thing.
"Last year, Jeff Bowman was the closer because he was good the first time through the order, but had some trouble after that," Adcock said. "We've got guys that are all good more than once through the order.
"(David) Humen and (Stephen) Copeland have shown they can do a good job in relief."
Today's game against the Goldpanners is the first of 13-game homestand.
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