Gallo storms to 8-0 in The Show Players League

April 15th, 2020

Turns out, Joey Gallo doesn’t just crush home runs in real life.

The Rangers slugger continued his early romp through the MLB The Show Players League on Tuesday, winning all four of his games and improving his record to 8-0. There’s still a long way to go before the playoffs, but Gallo has established himself as the early favorite.

Gallo started off the night by beating Ty Buttrey (Angels), 4-0. Then he breezed by Luke Jackson (Braves) in an 11-1 rout. Eduardo Rodriguez (Red Sox) had him preparing for his first loss, carrying a lead into the bottom of the third inning, but Gallo launched a three-run homer with Ronald Guzman to keep his unbeaten streak alive.

Even Gallo couldn’t quite believe his 7-6 walk-off victory, bouncing out of his chair and jumping behind his seat in celebration. He also couldn’t quite believe he was named player of the game -- until he remembered that video-game Gallo hit a homer before Guzman’s walk-off shot.

“That was an amazing game from E-Rod. I did not expect him to play that well,” Gallo said. “Unbelievable. I’ve got to let him know that was a great game.”

Gallo kept rolling after that. When he jumped out to a two-run lead in his fourth game of the night, Trevor May (Twins) chimed in on his Twitch stream by commenting, “Weird, he’s up already.” Then Gallo homered, again -- as video-game Gallo, again -- to extend his lead.

Yes, even the competition seems to know that Gallo -- who has scored 57 runs while only allowing 15 -- is the man to beat after five days of play.

“Man, that was stressful. That was really stressful,” Gallo said after his final victory, a 5-2 win over Rhys Hoskins (Phillies). “Shoutout [to] Ronald Guzman hitting a walk-off bomb for me. Absolutely huge. Sweating after those games.”

With 12 players on the sticks, there was plenty of other action in the Players League on Tuesday. Here are some of the other highlights.

Willow McNeil: Puppy Power
This league is all about the players, but let’s be honest, the dogs are kind of stealing the show.

On Sunday, it was Marlins reliever Ryne Stanek and his new puppy, Goose, who had an accident inside the house. On Tuesday, it was Jeff McNeil’s famously adopted dog, Willow.

With Willow sitting beside him, McNeil hit a two-run triple with Pete Alonso that he attributed to “puppy power.” Those two runs, evidently, were cause enough to give Willow a treat. McNeil was so busy rewarding his pup that he took a first-pitch fastball right down the middle. He said it didn’t matter, because Willow is “so cute.” Who are we to argue?

McNeil went on to win that game, 4-0, improving to 6-2 overall.

“We’re coming for Bo”
That’s how Gallo signed off of his Twitch stream, a nod to Bo Bichette. The Blue Jays shortstop climbed to second in the Players League standings, just behind Gallo with a 7-1 record after winning all four of his games on Tuesday.

Bichette didn’t run into much resistance during his second day of play. He quietly brushed aside Lance McCullers Jr.’s Astros (8-0), Jon Duplantier's D-backs (4-1), McNeil’s Mets (4-0) and Carl Edwards Jr.’s Mariners (7-3).

Bichette homered as himself against the Astros and homered twice as fellow Blue Jays youngster Cavan Biggio. But he really came to life after going deep as Randal Grichuk against the Mets, looking into his webcam and imploring Grichuk to join him on Twitch and hype him up.

Or maybe it was just an excuse to rhyme “Grich” and “Twitch.” Whatever works.

“Don’t do dumb stuff,” Jeffrey
Whether things are going his way or not, you simply have to watch Reds pitcher Amir Garrett.

Garrett lit up when he threw out Seattle’s Daniel Vogelbach at first base from right field, screaming, “He got torched!” When he won that game on a walk-off single by Eugenio Suárez, Garrett stood up and shouted, “Stop playing with me! Stop playing with the king!”

The next game, he had fun needling McNeil by repeatedly calling him “Jeffrey.” Then he was baffled by one of McNeil’s decisions, which came right before an Aristides Aquino RBI double to left. “Somebody tell Jeffrey that’s why you don’t make dumb mistakes, bro.” But just as Garrett was lecturing the audience, “Don’t do dumb stuff,” his virtual Reds did some, you know, dumb stuff.

Aquino tried to take third base, but there was already a runner there. The Mets got the out at home, and Jeffrey got out of the inning.

Drama, dubs and dancing
Rodriguez was beaten thoroughly during his first day of play, losing all four of his games without scoring a run. Tuesday represented progress, even if he was left talking about what might have been against Gallo.

Rodriguez went into extra innings against Buttrey but escaped with a 3-1 win in five innings. It was “drama, but the first dub,” as Rodriguez said.

Then Rodriguez, with a photo of himself pumping his first as his backdrop, broke into a celebratory song and dance. At one point, Rodriguez struck the exact same pose as the photo in the background -- with his Red Sox jersey and cap replaced by a “Fun Guy” T-shirt and gaming headset.

At the end of the night, Rodriguez offered a serious scouting report on his performance, noting that he greatly improved at hitting but still needs to get better at pitching, defense and baserunning.

Life imitating art, or vice versa
With the Angels and Marlins tied heading into the bottom of the third inning, Buttrey made a call to the bullpen and summoned … himself. After video-game Stanek helped real-life Stanek finish the top of the third, real-life Buttrey asked video-game Buttrey to force extras.

It didn’t end well for either version of Buttrey.

Batting with Miguel Rojas, Stanek took one pitch then smashed a walk-off homer to left field.

The game’s winner and winning pitcher: Stanek. The game’s loser and losing pitcher: Buttrey.

Wednesday’s games to watch
On the field or in MLB The Show, it’s hard to take your eyes off the high-energy play of Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr (Padres).

Tatis was a human highlight reel in his first day of play, and his reactions were just as memorable. So keep an eye on him on Wednesday, especially as the youngster matches up with wily veteran and National League West rival Hunter Pence (Giants). There’s also a Bay Area showdown on the schedule, with Pence set to face A’s pitcher Jesus Luzardo.

It’s another loaded slate of games, with 12 players set to get in on the action.

Where to watch
Over the next few weeks, the league will be livestreamed on MLB social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch), MLB Network's Twitch site, "MLB The Show" social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch), the clubs’ social media accounts and Each player will also stream it from their individual Twitch or YouTube accounts.

Aside from those streams, in order to provide a full gameday experience, MLB Network will provide a live stream in which it will select the best one-on-one matchups and look into other game results and friendly banter.