OAKLAND -- At this point, it’s Joey Gallo’s world, and we’re all just living in it.
Gallo continued his otherworldly stretch in the Rangers’ 8-3 win over the A’s on Thursday at Oakland Coliseum with a towering two-run home run, his fifth straight game with a long ball. It was his 20th of the season, and he has seven homers in those five games.
The superlatives to describe Gallo’s play are quickly running thin, but for manager Chris Woodward, what the 27-year-old is doing is evoking memories of the greatest home run hitter of all time.
“It reminds me of Barry Bonds,” Woodward said. “That’s a huge name to throw out there, but you’re seeing a guy this hot, you don’t even know what to say. You don’t even know what to think.”
Woodward’s comparison is lofty, but it’s not all that obtuse. Gallo is, far and away, the hottest player in baseball, and it’s not just because of the home runs -- although they’ve played a big part.
Gallo has reached base multiple times in four of his last five games. Along with his blast on Thursday, Gallo reached safely four times, smashing a pair of singles with exit velocities of 108.9 and 110.8 mph and drawing a walk. Whether it’s with his power or plate discipline, there’s seldom a game where Gallo isn’t making his presence felt.
And, yes, he’s also been hitting a bundle of homers.
“What he did this series was pretty impressive,” said A's designated hitter and former teammate Mitch Moreland. “Finishing off today with three missiles, he was locked in. Seems like he’s getting his pitch and not really missing it.”
With Thursday’s home run, Gallo became the first Rangers player to homer in five consecutive games since Mike Napoli in 2012. Gallo also joins Josh Hamilton as the only other Ranger to hit seven home runs in a five-game stretch. Frank Howard accomplished the feat as well in 1968, back when the club went by the Washington Senators. Regardless of the lens in which this recent run is viewed, Gallo has been historically great.
This has, more or less, been The Joey Gallo Experience over the last couple of weeks. Since the beginning of June, Gallo is slashing .291/.456/.722 with 11 home runs. Compare that to April and May, when Gallo slashed .216/.367/.398 with nine home runs. Gallo joked that nothing can go wrong for him at the plate right now, not coming from a place of arrogance, but genuine surprise.
“You hope to catch him when he’s not swinging the bat well, and we did not,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “You try everything with him, but he’s got a great eye and takes walks. He’s good. When he’s hot, he’s really good.”
When asked about the main difference between hot and cold streaks -- Gallo observed that he’s historically very streaky -- he said it comes down to a feel, a flow. Gallo referenced Kyle Schwarber, who hit 16 home runs in 18 games, and theorized that Schwarber was experiencing the same comfort and confidence as himself.
“It’s tough to fake that mentality,” Gallo said. “I think that has a lot to do with it.”
Gallo wasn’t the only Ranger to flex his muscles in the series finale. Nate Lowe launched his 11th and 12th home runs of the year, his second multi-homer game of the season. John Hicks had an impressive 408-foot solo shot in his first career game with Texas as well. It was the second time this season that Texas has hit four home runs in a single game.
“For it to pile up like this is awesome, but the fact that he’s putting up the power numbers that he’s putting up is not really a surprise to me at all,” Lowe said.
The central question that has emerged regarding Gallo, then, is whether he’s done enough to warrant a spot in the Midsummer Classic. Gallo, of course, wants to earn his second All-Star nod, but he’s aware how his slow start, and the lack of “sexy” numbers that came with it, affected the early stages of voting.
Gallo’s candidacy has certainly picked up steam in recent weeks. With 81 games down, Gallo boasts a 146 wRC+ and has accrued nearly three wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs -- numbers that are well-worthy of an All-Star bid. And given how well Gallo has been playing, Woodward has a simple message for those responsible for constructing the roster:
“Don’t forget about Joey Gallo.”