Tigers use strength of singles to overcome Gallo's power show, take down Rangers
Arlington, Texas — Back in April, the Tigers probably don't survive the power show Joey Gallo put on Wednesday at Globe Life Field. They probably don't take this series against the Rangers.
Now, in July, it would have been a mild surprise if they didn't.
"This is what we talked about in spring training," said Robbie Grossman, after the Tigers series-winning 5-3 win. "Just coming to the field expecting to win every day. And these guys do. We come in expecting to win these series and it shows on the field.
"We're playing really good baseball."
BOX SCORE: Tigers 5, Rangers 3
This is the first time the Tigers have taken a series from Texas since August 2016. They are now 4-0-1 in their last five series and 31-23 since May 8.
"We're definitely confident," said rookie starter Casey Mize who went four strong innings marred only by the damage Gallo wrought. "This is a good group. Even when things weren't as good as they are now, it was still a good group to be around. We come in every day expecting to win."
It was announced before the game that Rangers slugger Gallo would participate in the Home Run Derby next week during the All-Star Game festivities in Colorado. And he chose Wednesday afternoon to start getting loose. Bad timing for Mize.
Gallo hit a pair of two-seam fastballs from Mize a total of 902 feet. Lord knows how far they'd have gone in the thin air in Denver.
But baseball is a strange game.
The Tigers, on the strength of four singles that totaled 613 feet combined, scored three runs in the top of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie.
"Joey Gallo is going to win those battles in most games," manager AJ Hinch said.
Especially on days Rangers ace Kyle Gibson is chucking. The Rangers had been 9-0 on days Gibson starts and he was cruising into the seventh until bloop singles by Nomar Mazara and Harold Castro, and a walk to Jake Rogers, knocked him out of the game with one out.
The Rangers brought in lefty Joely Rodriguez to face left-handed hitting Akil Baddoo. Hinch countered with Miguel Cabrera off his bench. Cabrera fought off a two-strike pitch and banged it off Rodriguez’s leg for an infield hit, breaking the 2-2 tie.
"I've never seen Miggy run that fast," Hinch said. "I think we can all say that. He smelled that hit. That kind of ignited things. We didn't hit it hard, but we got that Miggy at-bat and that was the catalyst."
Jonathan Schoop followed with an RBI bloop single behind first base that landed right on the chalk line. Grossman then drew a bases-loaded walk (his third walk in the game) to bring in another.
Four hits, none hit harder than 86 mph off the bat (Cabrera’s).
Gallo, though, put on a show.
Leading off the second inning, Mize fell behind him 2-0 and tried to guide a 90-mph two-seamer to the bottom of the strike zone. That ball left Gallo’s bat with an exit velocity of 109 mph and flew 440 feet into the seats in right-center.
"The plan wasn't to throw him sinkers away," Mize said. "But 2-0 I tried to. That's the only time I tried to. Maybe get some weak contact at the bottom of the zone. I just caught way too much of the plate."
With one out in the fourth, Mize threw him three splitters, good ones, and seemed to have him set up on a 2-2 pitch. Catcher Rogers wanted the two-seamer up in the zone, but Mize threw it right down the middle (at 95 mph). That one flew off his bat at 111.6 mph and traveled 462 feet — the longest homer hit at the new Globe Life Field.
"I tried to go up and in," Mize said. "He has a hole there if you can execute the pitch. Up and in he doesn't handle as well as other stuff that he handles really well. But again, way too much of the plate."
Gallo, as if fated, came up to bat with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the eighth.
Hinch had already used right-hander Kyle Funkhouser (two scoreless innings) and Jose Cisnero (scoreless seventh) and didn't have Joe Jimenez, Buck Farmer or Daniel Norris available.
So, with a three-run lead and the bottom of the Rangers order due up in the eighth, he went to veteran right-hander Erasmo Ramirez. Three singles later and Hinch had to hastily summon All-Star lefty Gregory Soto.
"I didn't anticipate a bases-loaded, no-out entry for Gregory," Hinch said.
Soto got Adolis Garcia to pop out, which brought up Gallo. Soto, maybe unintentionally on purpose, walked him on four pitches to force in a run.
"Anytime you clear a Gallo at-bat without the ball leaving the yard today seems like a success," Hinch said. "He's such a dangerous hitter and he's been so locked in the last couple of weeks.
"If you can clear that at-bat, albeit by walking in a run, seemed like advantage us."
Especially after Soto, throwing 98- and 99-mph heat, struck out John Hicks and Jonah Heim to end the threat. He pitched around a leadoff double in the ninth to earn a six-out save, his seventh.
"We asked a lot out of our staff today and we needed everyone to do their part," Hinch said. "Obviously Soto came in at the biggest leverage point in the game. To minimize the damage in the eighth and go back out after such an emotional inning and get the last three outs — just a huge performance."