– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
ARLINGTON, Texas — In a situation that almost all batters hope to come to the plate, Texas Rangers first baseman Joey Gallo was everything but comfortable so far this season while batting with the bases loaded. Mired in a slump going into his at-bat in the sixth inning on Friday, Gallo turned his struggles with the sacks full into a funk-busting, game-breaking swing that closed out the month of May in style for the Rangers.
In the sixth inning, Gallo launched a 457-foot game-tying grand slam, his first-ever Major League home run with the bases loaded, to lift the Rangers to a 6-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Globe Life Park on Friday night. Ariel Jurado gave up just two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out a career-high six batters to earn the victory in his second consecutive quality start.
Kansas City was up 2-0 to begin the bottom of the sixth before the Rangers rallied, scoring twice to tie the game before Gallo came up to bat with the bases loaded with one out. Going into tonight, Gallo was just 2-for-20 in his last seven games and was hitless in five previous at-bats with the bases loaded this season.
Those frustrations at the plate ended with one swing, as Gallo crushed a 1-1 pitch into the plaza seats well beyond the center field wall for his 16th homer of the season.
“I was standing out there, I’m like, baseball kind of sucks sometimes,” Gallo said. “But in the back of my head, I said we’ve got four or five innings still left. Be confident and go out there and still play hard, and things turned around quick. That’s just the way baseball goes, so I try not to get too down on myself and just keep fighting.”
Elvis Andrus hit an RBI single and Nomar Mazara walked with the bases loaded to tie the game prior to Gallo’s clout as Kansas City starter Danny Duffy had only faced two batters above the minimum after the first five innings.
The Royals scored a run in the second on Cheslor Cuthbert’s first home run of the season and a run in the fifth on Alex Gordon’s RBI triple, but were stymied overall offensively by Jurado, whose parents arrived from Panama the night before to see their son play for the first time in the Major Leagues.
“That was a special moment,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “He pitched really well. He did not get hit hard much at all. He executed his pitches and used them all. I just can’t say enough about what he has done since he has been here.”
Tonight was Jurado’s third start after appearing for the Rangers in relief nine times after being called up from Triple-A Nashville. His previous start also saw him produce a quality outing, allowing just two runs in 6.1 innings in Los Angeles against the Angels last Sunday.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 24 pictures in total.