Joey Gallo has been very vocal about his dislike of teams shifting against him. He’s found ways to adjust to it throughout the season by drawing walks and hitting bloop singles. He went another direction in the Rangers’ 6-2 loss on Tuesday night in Anaheim.
Following a one-out triple from Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the seventh inning, with no Angels infielders lining up on the left side, Gallo pushed a bunt right toward where the third baseman would have been standing for an RBI single that made it a 3-2 game.
Manager Chris Woodward said that the decision to bunt at that point in the game was all Gallo and commended the slugger’s maturity in the moment to make that call.
“With Joe, it's just a maturity thing and realizing how important it is to get that run across,” Woodward said. “Getting us within one run late in the game like that, the whole game changes at that point. No matter who's hitting, that's such a huge thing for us to push another run across there.”
Gallo said when teams use a dramatic shift on him, he tries to work the count or play small ball because he doesn’t have a choice. This was the first time he’s attempted to lay down a bunt this season. Gallo, who went 1-for-3 with a walk on the night, said he like to find different ways around the shift and finds it enjoyable.
In last week's series against Tampa Bay, the Rays put all five infielders in right field to prevent a hit from Gallo. He ended up going 4-for-12 with six walks in the four-game set.
“I knew, against Tampa Bay, I wasn't going to be able to hit a double or ball in the gap because there's five guys sitting out there,” Gallo said following that series. “It was either a single, a walk or a home run. They’ve got good pitchers out there, so I just took the approach where I was gonna play small ball and fight and try to grind to get on base any way I can.”
The Rangers couldn’t get much else going on the offensive end on Tuesday. Nick Solak’s home run in the sixth accounted for the only other run. That was the story of the night for Texas. The Rangers lost based on a combination of not being able to capitalize on the Angels' errors and allowing the Halos to do exactly that.
After drawing three straight walks off Shohei Ohtani in the first inning, the Rangers had the bases loaded with one out, but Ohtani struck out Solak and Willie Calhoun to escape the threat.
The Rangers drew seven walks on top of five hits, but they stranded 16 runners on base
Kiner-Falefa broke an 0-for-19 slump with his triple in the seventh inning and added a single in the ninth, but he was the only Rangers batter with multiple hits in the game.
“I thought, for the most part, our at-bats against them were pretty good,” Woodward said. “It's tough with a guy like [Ohtani]. You call him effectively wild, but I don't know how much success you're gonna have if you're gonna walk that many guys consistently. It's one of those things where, yeah, we had our chance, but he did make quality pitches to kind of get out of it.”