ARLINGTON -- Joey Gallo was feeling the pressure. He had been sitting on 39 home runs since Sept. 25, and time was running out for him to reach the 40-homer mark.Guys in the dugout kept reminding him he just needed one more, and Gallo said he started trying to force
ARLINGTON -- Joey Gallo was feeling the pressure. He had been sitting on 39 home runs since Sept. 25, and time was running out for him to reach the 40-homer mark.
Guys in the dugout kept reminding him he just needed one more, and Gallo said he started trying to force it, which had manifested itself in a 4-for-31 stretch where he struck out 19 times.
On Saturday, he broke through. Gallo launched his 40th homer of the year off of A's starter Daniel Gossett in the second inning of the Rangers' 8-4 win, which put the Rangers on the board and gave them the lead for good.
"Off the bat, I was like, 'It's over. I can just enjoy it and play again,'" he said. "So yeah, I was pretty happy about that one."
Gallo became just the sixth player in Rangers history to crack the 40-homer mark and first since Josh Hamilton hit 43 in 2012. To finally break through meant a great deal to Gallo, and seeing the ball fly over the fence brought a smile to his face he didn't even try to hide as he circled the bases, fireworks booming over the Arlington sky.
"I got close, and down the stretch I was like, 'Man, if I don't hit one, I'm going to be pretty upset at myself,'" Gallo said. "So today was a little relief off of my shoulders. … I mean, I didn't really care at that point."
Then, for good measure, he added his 41st in the third inning. This one landed in the second deck in right field, just above a portal a handful of rows up.
Saturday marked his fourth career multi-homer game -- all at home, and all this season. He became the first Ranger with four-plus multi-homer games at home since Alfonso Soriano (five) and Mark Teixeira (four) in 2005.
The 41-homer campaign is a far cry from what Gallo expected coming into the year, especially after a season ago when he had just one hit in 30 at-bats. Gallo went from an uncertain role at the start of the season to being an important part of the Rangers' lineup moving forward.
"It culminates the year for a player who came into camp on a mission to make the team," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He proved to everybody he is a Major League player."
Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington.