ST. PETERSBURG -- The last week has been highly unusual for Joey Gallo. He's accustomed to playing on an everyday basis, but a freak head-to-head collision with teammate Matt Bush on Aug. 20 while fielding a popup landed him on the seven-day disabled list and into the league's concussion protocol.Then,
ST. PETERSBURG -- The last week has been highly unusual for Joey Gallo. He's accustomed to playing on an everyday basis, but a freak head-to-head collision with teammate Matt Bush on Aug. 20 while fielding a popup landed him on the seven-day disabled list and into the league's concussion protocol.
Then, the extreme circumstances created by Hurricane Harvey took the Rangers' series with the Astros to the home of the Rays instead. But in a moment of normalcy for the young slugger, Gallo highlighted his return with a towering home run in the third inning of the Rangers' 12-2 win on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
"That was pretty awesome. I hit that and I was like, 'All right, good start. You can get going now,'" Gallo said. "Hitting is about getting into a rhythm, get your timing, get your confidence, and today definitely helped out."
The enthusiastic crowd celebrated the 415-foot blast (per Statcast™), not with the passion that comes with rooting for the home team, but with the enthusiasm of fans happy to revel in an athletic accomplishment by either side.
Some fans targeted Gallo with their remarks, but Rangers enthusiasts will be much more welcoming of the return of the 23-year-old power hitter. Gallo has the most home runs in the American League since the All-Star break, and his 36 are the most for a Ranger in a season since Adrian Beltre hit 36 in 2012.
"It's not just the home runs, but it's the on-base and the at-bats and the extended at-bats," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "I think he has worked his way into one of those guys that [has] high-pitch-count at-bats: working the pitcher, staying patient, putting together quality Major League at-bats."
A noted "three true outcomes" hitter, Gallo registered the trifecta Tuesday, with a home run, a walk and a strikeout, along with two lineouts. The homer was a welcome post-DL return to the form he was displaying in August, the most productive month in his career in terms of home runs (11) and RBIs (20).
But most important, with so much happening in Houston and southeast Texas, was providing victims even the slightest escape from reality.
"You always want to perform, you always want to play well," Gallo said. "But I think today is a little more special for both teams just to play baseball and try to make those people proud and have something to look forward to."
Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Tampa Bay area.