Solak's 2 HRs, surge powered by ... pants?

April 28th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers broke a four-game losing streak on Tuesday with a two-homer night from propelling them to a 6-1 victory over the Angels in Globe Life Field.

Solak kicked off the scoring early for the Rangers, hitting a solo shot at a Statcast-estimated 422 feet to deep center field in the bottom of the first inning. He added his second in the bottom of the seventh inning, a blast to left field.

“A couple years ago I hit a lot of home runs in the Minor Leagues and over the course of my career, throughout the Minors, each and every year I've kind of hit more and more,” Solak said of his newfound power. “So I just try to put good swings on the ball and hope they go out.” 

In his last seven games, Solak has slashed .346/.433/.846 at the plate with four home runs and six RBIs. After having just seven total career home runs through his first two MLB seasons, Solak’s two-homer night gives him seven on the 2021 season. That ties him for the American League lead through 24 games.

Solak said he’s not really worried about those numbers, focusing instead on trying to have good at-bats and help the team win. 

“He’s our best hitter right now,” said manager Chris Woodward. “He just set the tone right from the beginning. He's not missing fastballs, he's getting in a lot of good counts and putting good swings on balls. He's hammering balls all over the field. When he's right, he's tough to get out. He can ride through some breaking balls, but he also hammers fastballs. It's been fun to watch.”

Woodward said Solak is obviously a streaky hitter, but when he’s locked in, he hits bombs all over the field. 

Rangers veteran infielder Brock Holt said last week that he told Solak something after his slow start at the plate, and that suggestion may have jolted him into shape. 

“I told him to wear his pants up [to his knees],” Holt joked. “I said, ‘Hey man, you're a baseball player, you’re a gamer. We wear our pants up.’ And he started wearing pants up and he started raking. So I take credit for that.”

Believe it or not, that actually does seem to hold up statistically. In the first three series of the season, Solak wore his pants all the way down to his ankles and went 7-for-32 with 15 strikeouts.

Since taking Holt's advice, Solak's batting average has risen to .307 with an OPS of .958, after a three-hit night on Tuesday.  

Solak said he’s not superstitious, but he’ll probably continue wearing his pants like that as long as Holt is in the clubhouse.

But his mid-month adjustments are obvious beyond a change in attire. He’s been more relaxed at the plate, having been able to focus and avoid trying to force everything. 

“There's good and bad and ups and downs [in baseball],” Solak said. “To be able to handle that each and every day I think is important and something that I'm working on and learning. To make the adjustments that I have even in a short month, I think it's important.”

Slugger snapped a career-high 20-game homerless streak on Tuesday as well, hitting his second long ball of the season over the right field wall in the third inning -- a Statcast-estimated 114.3 mph line drive into the seats. Gallo went 1-for-3 at the plate with a walk, extending his on-base streak to 23 straight games. It is the longest such streak in MLB in 2021 and the sixth-longest to open a season in Texas franchise history. 

“I think he's gonna hit some moon balls just like he normally does, I really do,” Woodward said about Gallo’s lack of homers this season. “I think it's just a matter of time and maybe today's will will kind of spark something. He can kind of take a little deep breath and say, ‘OK, I got one,’ and then be a little bit more relaxed tomorrow.”

The Rangers are now 9-8 this season when the offense hits at least one home run and 1-6 when it doesn’t.