Big news Tuesday from Phoenix. Former Star-Telegram sportswriter Jesse Sanchez, the Saginaw Boswell grad now kicking butt at mlb.com, will be featured in the 2021 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball set.
For a card geek like me and as his friend, that’s really cool.
As a consumer and occasional flipper of cards, imagine landing one of his cards as the auto in your hobby box.
Friend 1: “I opened and Allen & Ginter box and got a Sanchez auto.”
Friend 2: “Gary?”
“Oooh. A hot prospect?”
“Ah. That’s nice.”
All joking aside, I can’t wait to add one to my collection. I’m willing to pay up to 25 cents.
Some of you might be saying “finally” or “about time.” The Rangers, though, knew it was just a matter of time until Joey Gallo hit another homer.
It came right on time in the third inning, a line shot at 114.3 mph in to the right-field seats. The two-run shot, just Gallo’s second homer of the season, off Jose Quintana broke a 1-1 tie.
The blast also snapped Gallo’s career-long streak of 20 games without a homer. He entered the season third in MLB history among hitters with 1,500 career at-bats with a 12.62 at-bat:homer ratio.
The two ahead of him were Mark McGwire (10.61) and Babe Ruth (11.76).
It’s hard for anyone to hit home runs when pitchers won’t throw strikes, and that has been the case with Gallo. He’s the MLB leader in walks thanks to an unwillingness to swing at pitches outside the strike zone.
The walks, it’s been said repeatedly, are helping the Rangers win games.
“I know I can hit home runs,” Gallo said. “I can do other things to help the team win, too.”
The guess here is that more Gallo home runs will follow in short order. That’s been the Rangers’ guess all along.
“He takes a lot of pride in being our 3-hole hitter, our best hitter,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I feel like he’s doing a really good job even though he hasn’t been hitting homers. He still has plate discipline. He still trusts that swing when he steps in the batter’s box. It’s really nice for him to get some results.”
Solak, too! Twice!
There are six hitters tied for the American League lead in home runs with seven.
One of them is Nick Solak.
The second baseman collected the first multi-homer game of his career Tuesday with a pair of solo shots, one in the first and one in the seventh.
Solak entered the season with seven career homers.
That’s cool and all, but he’s not going to get caught up in any of his numbers.
“That’s not something I’m really worried about,” Solak said. “I don’t try to look at numbers very much. I just try to put good swings on the ball and do good things to help the team win.”
The surge in power is due in part to Solak becoming more adept at driving the ball to the pull side. He hits to all fields, but his home run power since coming up in 2019 had been to left field.
His homers Tuesday were to straightaway center field and dead left field.
“He’s hammering balls all over the field,” Woodward said. “He’s learning how to pull baseballs in the air. That was something he’d never done in his career consistently. He hits a lot of line drives to left, but a lot of the times he doesn’t pull those balls in the air.”
He also collected a single and drew a key walk ahead of Gallo’s home run. Quintana had to pitch to Gallo because first base was occupied, and the more the Rangers can get on base ahead of him, the more chances he will have to hit homers.
“We want to get on for him so that he can get pitches to hit,” Solak said. “It’s really important, just because it forces them to throw to him and he can do a lot of damage when the ball is in the zone.”
The three-hit game lifted Solak’s batting average to .307 and his OPS to .958. The player he replaced at second base, Rougned Odor, is batting .170 with a .612 OPS in his first 47 at-bats with the New York Yankees.
Who was the Texas Rangers’ star of the game Tuesday in a win over the Angels?
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None by Angels vs. Folty!
The Angels connected for three solo homers last week against right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, and that was all the damage against him before the Rangers rallied late for a win.
Foltynewicz was pitted against those same Angels again Tuesday, actually an improved Angels lineup with third baseman Anthony Rendon healthy, and made an adjustment in how he pitched them.
He also executed better.
Foltynewicz allowed only one run in 5 1/3 innings, with the tally coming on an Albert Pujols single. Foltynewicz struck out four and did well to pitch out of some trouble in the first, third and fifth.
The result was his first win with the Rangers and his first win since Sept. 20, 2019, with Atlanta. That’s 585 days, for those counting at home.
In an age when the win has lost statistical significance, this one had plenty of significance for Foltynewicz after the struggles he went through last year with a loss of strength during the COVID-19 shutdown and the uncertainty he faced in the offseason as a free agent.
“I don’t really want to talk about it because I could get emotional,” Foltynewicz said. “It’s cool. You go out there, you work your butt off, you hit some road bumps along the way, but you keep battling back. This game gave me an opportunity and just trusted me to go out there and battle.”
The performance snapped a string of back-to-back lousy outings by a Rangers starter. Throw in another Friday, and the Rangers really needed Foltynewicz to pitch at least beyond five innings.
He piled up 95 pitches and was out in the sixth, but the Rangers’ bullpen didn’t have to carry a heavy workload.
“You’re not going to cruise through a lineup like that, especially after he just faced them last week,” Woodward said. “To go through and only give up one run and get into the sixth inning like that was huge for us.”