Yovani Gallardo didn’t go to too many Texas Rangers games growing up in Fort Worth.
But they were always his team while he was living on the north side of downtown and attending Trimble Tech High School.
The idea of pitching for the team he grew up rooting for was a dream come true when Gallardo was traded from the Brewers to the Rangers in January.
The only thing better would be winning for your hometown team.
The 29-year-old did that Saturday night in his Globe Life Park debut. The Rangers’ 6-2 win over the Astros evened Texas’ record at 3-3 and tied atop the AL West with the Oakland A’s.
“I would just say I was anxious,” Gallardo said. “Growing up here in Fort Worth it’s one of the things I’ve always wanted to do, all my life since I was a young kid. Stepping out there for the first time it was definitely a lot more adrenaline and excitement. [I was just] trying to go out there and trying not to do too much. It’s always a hard thing to do, but I think I made some pretty good pitches today throughout the game.”
He looked sharp, especially after breezing through the two perfect innings. He allowed a solo home run to Marwin Gonzalez in the third, but he regrouped and worked out of bigger jams later in that inning and in the fourth. He struck out seven and walked one. He left in the sixth after a double and two-out single gave the Astros runners on the corners.
Jon Edwards, another hometown kid who attended Keller High School, made his first appearance this season after being called up from Triple A Round Rock earlier in the day. He struggled with his command against the Astros’ No. 9 hitter, walking Jake Marisnick to load the bases for Jose Altuve, the reigning major league batting champion. He walked on four pitches to drive in a run and pull the Astros to within 5-2.
Phil Klein replaced Edwards and quickly forced a groundout to end the inning.
“You saw Yovani Gallardo go out tonight and really took control of the game for the most part,” Rangers manger Jeff Banister said. “He gave us an opportunity to get off the field quickly and get our hitters to the plate.”
Gallardo —with much of his family in the stands along with 55 members of the Trimble Tech alumni group who took the Fox Sports Southwest Rangers Fan Express to the game — rose to the occasion.
“Some friends that I grew up with and played with in the summer were sitting up in the stands,” he said. “I tried not to listen to them too much, but before the game I just kind of gave them a little wave. I just think that it shows the support I’ve had throughout my career and especially for them to make it out for my first start here at home it means a lot.”
It felt especially good for Gallardo after he struggled in the season opener at Oakland on Monday when he was charged with four runs on six hits and left after just four innings in a deflating 8-0 loss.
“I was commanding the ball better compared with the start I had in Oakland,” said Gallardo, who was hoping to finish the sixth. “Yeah, I did. I think I made pitches whenever I had to. Who knows, I probably could have, but it’s one of those situations where you want to get the win most importantly and let those guys behind me do their job.”
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760
How Rangers pitchers fared: Yovani Gallardo earned his first win for Texas after holding the Astros to two runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked one. Jon Edwards struggled with his command after replacing Gallardo in the sixth with two runners on. Edwards issued two walks, the second of which drove in a run. Phil Klein took over for Edwards and quickly forced a groundout to end the inning. Keone Kela, Shawn Tolleson and Neftali Feliz each pitched an inning of scoreless relief.
How Rangers hitters fared: Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland and Carlos Peguero each had two hits and Elvis Andrus had a two-run single in the fifth. Beltre tripled in the first and scored on a throwing error at third on the same play. Delino DeShields Jr. collected the team’s first steal of the season. Jake Smolinski walked and scored twice. He is 0 for 8 to start the season. Robinson Chirinos snapped an 0-for-9 start with a single in the sixth.