Since it was announced that Adrian Beltre was going on the 10-day DL to start the season, and we all counted on our fingers to his eligibility date, it’s been something of an expectation that Texas might get a big performance from their third baseman on Sunday, April 9th against the Athletics
Beltre was not activated today, but the prediction held: Joey Gallo hit his second home run of the season en route to a 5-RBI day, and the Rangers ended their homestand with an 8-1 victory to move to 2-4 on the season.
Baseball–especially hitting–is a sport of failure, and the key is to learn how to fail just a little less frequently and slightly less extravagantly than everyone else. Success hides between the boards of the picket fence. Stop too long and focus on one particular slat, and you’ll never see what lies ahead. Try to look beyond the slats while you just keep moving, and a vision of what lies beyond starts to take a little shape.
"Knowing that (strikeouts) are going to happen,” Gallo explained when asked about his approach this year. “(Don’t) let it escalate into the next day, or the next at-bat, or the next week. If I strike out, I strike out. Pitchers are good up here, too. I just try not to wear it on my sleeve any more, and just accept it.”
It’s strange to feel euphoria hearing someone talk about striking out, but this is the sort of thing we’ve been hoping to hear from Gallo for awhile.
“It still sucks to strike out, but last year it went about as bad as it possibly could have, so it couldn’t get much worse. I’ve kinda learned from the things I’ve done wrong. Having a bad game, and wearing it on my sleeve, getting upset about it, and trying to change something… now if I strike out, I strike out, but my next at-bat, I could hit a three-run home run and win the game, so that’s how I’ve approached it.”
The three-run home run isn’t just an empty metaphor: that happened today in the second inning. With Ryan Rua and Robinson Chirinos having singled, Gallo swung at first pitch he saw, contusing a ball that landed in the right field seats.
Meanwhile, Martin Perez was putting together a solid start, caracoling through a minefield of base runners using a sharp changeup and good command. “All you can do is trust your stuff and compete,” Perez said later. “After you throw the ball, you can’t control the ball.”
Did the Rangers hire a Calvinist to conduct chapel for the team this morning, or...?
Perez’ afternoon came to an end during the top of the sixth inning. With a three-run lead, one out, and runners on second and third, Perez was at 92 pitches. Banister called to the pen. But it wasn’t Matt Bush who came trotting in. Nor was it Jeremy Jeffress. Keone Kela is in AAA. Jake Diekman is out for the foreseeable future. Scheppers is also in Round Rock on a rehab assignment. No, with the tying run at bat and two runners in scoring position, it was Jose Leclerc who got the ball.
“What he’s done each time he’s gone out, that’s why he came in the game today in that situation,” Jeff Banister said after the game. “Our confidence in him, his confidence in himself, the set of pitches that he has - he has the swing and miss, two different kinds of changeup and the 97mph fastball. He’s another one you just kinda compare him to the mannerisms of Mazara. He doesn’t seem to be fazed.
Leclerc struck out Phegley and got Adam Rosales to fly out. Inning over.
Texas added three more runs in the bottom of the inning, when Oakland starter Sean Manaea finally appeared to tire a bit. He struck out his tenth batter that inning, but only after he had hit Nomar Mazara in the head with a pitch (Mazara stayed in the game). With one out, Rougned Odor hit a ball that bunny-rabbited between Ryon Healy’s feet at first base, and with runners at the corners, Manaea walked Ryan Rua to load the bases and conclude his day.
Leclerc had rescued his starter a half-inning earlier. Frankie Montas was unable to do so.
Montas walked Robinson Chirinos to make it 4-0, and then Gallo struck a ball 112 miles per hour (but aimed too low to be another home run). It was a two-run single.
“This year, I don’t really have any of that noise in my head. I haven’t done any social media or anything, I’m just kinda living my life and enjoying it now. I come to the field, and I don’t know anything, I just show up. I don’t know any stories, I know nothing so… no offense… but it’s nice because you get to approach it as a game again, not this big event with a lot of hype around it, so I just come out, play the game, and go home.” - Joey Gallo
The A’s did finally score one run. It came in the 8th when a leadoff Khris Davis single off Matt Bush eventually turned into a run scored on a wild pitch. But the Rangers came right back just a few batters later: Chirinos hit his first home run of the season, scoring himself and Rua (Rua went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored today). It was 8-1, which was the final. But there was one last failure to overcome:
“Yeah, I mean, it’s nice to not get pulled during the game, to get through a full inning. It’s a step in the right direction.” - Sam Dyson
Marcus Semien: Strikeout Swinging
Rajai Davis: walk
Ryon Healy: 6-4-3 double play. Fireworks, Hello Win Column, I like Texas, let’s go eat.