HOUSTON -- The Rangers’ right fielder hit two long home run over the right-field wall Wednesday night during an 8-4 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
But it wasn’t Joey Gallo.
With Texas’ slugger taking a breather from defense as the designated hitter, Eli White filled in as the right fielder and launched his first career homer in the third inning. He hit his second just four innings later. Both were leadoff, opposite-field solo shots.
“That was super cool,” White said on Zoom after the game. “It's something I've dreamed about since I was a little kid and fell in love with this game. I’m so grateful for the opportunity out there.
“It was a dream come true to get my first home run in the big leagues, and then it was pretty cool to hit my second one in the same game. I'm just thankful to have this opportunity to play baseball at this level. It's pretty cool how that worked out tonight.”
White is just the second player in Rangers franchise history to hit his first and second career homers in the same game. The other was Carlos Pena on Sept. 19, 2001 vs. the A’s. It was also the sixth multiple-homer game by a Rangers hitter this season and the first since Adolis García against Houston on May 22.
White said he was able to easily get the first home run ball because an Astros fan in the right-field stands threw it back.
There were eight total home runs in the matchup -- only White’s two were from the Rangers’ lineup. Four of the Astros’ homers came off of Texas starter Jordan Lyles, who struggled through 4 1/3 innings. Six home runs are the most a Rangers staff has allowed since Aug. 27, 2019 against the Yankees.
Lyles mentioned on Zoom that because of the dimensions of Minute Maid Park, it’s sometimes easier to hit homers, especially to the Crawford Boxes in left field, where it’s 315 feet down the line.
Both of White’s home runs were to deep right-center field, projected by Statcast at 392 feet and 369 feet. White hit only 32 home runs over five Minor League seasons, but manager Chris Woodward said he wasn’t surprised by the display of power against the Astros.
“This guy's as strong as they come,” Woodward said. “You don't realize how big he is until you’re standing next to him. People don't realize how strong this guy is. He’s as good of an athlete as we have in the organization. The fastest guy in the big leagues. And he's obviously got muscles, and he’s fast to go along with it.”
White was on the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and appeared in 22 games over two separate stints with the big league club. He was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on May 13 after a .127 start at the plate.
White said he felt like he was trying not to fail at times instead of just playing the game to succeed. He’s in a much better mindset now than two months ago. He wants to have fun and play hard every day and let the rest work itself out.
And while White did work on other things, like fixing his timing on fastballs and some little mechanical things, confidence and comfort were the most important.
“I hate to say, put it that way, but sometimes, as a hitter, finding your comfort zone in the big leagues is hard,” Woodward said. “Getting a guy to Triple-A, where it's much easier to kind of just get into a groove and sometimes getting back here with that confidence is all you need to start going forward in a positive direction. He's got a little confidence going right now, and he's getting into a little bit of a groove.”