Gallo's vanishing homer not enough for Texas

Slugger launches one onto Tropicana Field catwalk; Texas drops first series in past 10

June 30th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- has slugged plenty of home runs during his Major League career -- 108 since 2015, with 101 coming since ‘17 -- but none of them have ever just gone up and not come back down.

But that’s exactly what happened on Sunday during an otherwise sleepy 6-2 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay’s home park has some quirks to be sure, among them a set of four catwalks suspended high above the field. Some are completely in fair territory, others only partially. Hitting them can result in a home run, a dead ball, a ground-rule double or a live ball, depending on which one and if the ball is fair or foul.

Gallo didn’t really care about any of those rules on Sunday -- he just wanted to get his team on the board against Blake Snell, the defending American League Cy Young Award winner. The count was 1-1 in the fourth inning when Snell unleashed a slider that hung over the plate.

Gallo made him pay, scorching the pitch 109.5 mph into the air far beyond the right-field wall at a launch angle of 30 degrees. About the same time the home run began its downward arch and the crowd below began guesstimating where in the outfield seats it would land, the “D” ring catwalk surprised everyone -- including Gallo -- by refusing to give up the ball.

“I didn’t notice it didn’t come down; I thought it just hit up there,” he said. “I hit one [off a catwalk] a couple of years ago and it was a ground-rule double.”

According to the Tropicana Field rules, any fair ball that hits the lower two catwalks (C and D) is a home run. A fair ball that hits one of the top two catwalks (A and B) is in play. Any fair ball that stays on the A or B catwalks is a ground-rule double, and a foul ball that hits any of the catwalks is a dead ball.

No extra points awarded for home runs that don’t come down, it appears, but Gallo was impressed with the shot for other reasons. First, because it gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Second, because he hit it off Snell.

“It was a pretty cool home run off a guy who is really nasty,” Gallo said with a chuckle. “That's the reason I bunted my first at-bat off of him.”

Unfortunately, the Rangers struggled to get much else going against Snell, who fanned 12 in his six innings and allowed just two hits outside of Gallo’s dinger -- Gallo’s previously mentioned bunt against the shift and an Elvis Andrus single.

“I think we saw the guy that won the Cy Young,” manager Chris Woodward said. “The one thing is, he attacked us. He came right after us, got strike one early on pretty much all our guys. When you get behind on a guy like that, with that kind of ability, it makes it tough.”

Texas starter struck out eight and didn’t walk a hitter in his six innings to keep the Rangers in the ballgame, but the right-hander was also tagged for four runs (three earned), including a fifth-inning homer by Tommy Pham.

The runs were the first Chavez allowed as a starter this season.

“I felt good,” Chavez said. “Looking back at it when I came out, there were two mistakes out of the whole game that really did us in today: the sinker in for the double and the slider that didn’t slide”

Sunday’s defeat sealed the first series loss for the Rangers since May 26. Texas had won its past three series, and had gone 6-0-3 in the past nine.

Still, the Rangers travel home with plenty to celebrate. They’ll head west after a 4-2 road trip that included a three-game sweep of the Tigers and will welcome the return of All-Star designated hitter Hunter Pence during the Angels series.