How many times do you yell at the TV for the guy to bunt the ball when they have such an exaggerated shift on him?
Finally, he bunted.
All season long there has been a gaping hole on the left side of the infield for Joey Gallo. Nearly sixty feet of the baseline between second and third was wide open. Opposing teams said, “Please take first base on us. Please.”
Yet he kept pulling the ball into the shift.
It’s not surprising. Last year he just decided he would put the ball over everybody. He did that 41 times.
But they were just giving him first base this year and he wasn’t taking it. In fact, early on he defiantly reminding reporters he was a home run hitter, not a bunter, seemingly annoyed at being asked about it.
He did try laying down a bunt on three other occasions. Unsuccessfully.
Last night, leading off the home half of the second, he decided to give it another try. Maybe it was the desperation of an offense losing Adrian Beltre.
Whatever the catalyst, Joey Gallo bunted. This time it worked. Wonderfully.
He led off the fourth inning as well with the Rangers trailing 2-0. This time the shift wasn’t as pronounced and he singled to right. Two batters later, Ronald Guzman singled him to third and then Juan Centeno brought him home with a fielder’s choice.
But going into last night’s game, the Rangers were just 1-14 when their opponent scored first (7-3 when the Rangers did).
Gallo walked in the fifth to set up Isiah Not-Odor’s two-out, two-RBI single. Miraculously, the Rangers took the lead, 3-2.
He led off the eighth with a single as well. Yes, he was erased at second on a fielder’s choice, but the Rangers scored that inning as well.
So after going 3-for-3 last night with three singles, Joey Gallo has the oddest of odd career stats.
He has 55 career home runs. And 55 career singles.
He will never lead the league in hitting. And the power will be what will keep him in the big leagues for a long time.
But being willing to play small ball is what will make him even bigger.