Thanks to the wonders of satellite television, the Frisco RoughRiders just happened to be watching a Chicago White Sox game a few weeks ago.
Long, lanky left-hander Chris Sale was pitching for the White Sox.
“I was saying if I had to not face one guy in the major leagues, and now second day in the big leagues I’m having to face him,” Texas Rangers rookie Joey Gallo said Wednesday afternoon. “That’s karma right there.”
You know what they say about karma.
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Gallo’s big-league encore didn’t have the same success as his debut, though it wasn’t a total wash. Gallo struck out in all three of his at-bats against Sale before atoning with a solo homer to start the ninth. But it was far too little as the White Sox rolled to a 9-2 victory Wednesday night at Globe Life Park.
“It was a great learning experience,” Gallo said. “It’s not fun to do. I want to help the team win, but he was on tonight and I’ve never seen stuff like that from the left side. Next time, I feel like I’ll have a better chance.”
Making matters worse for the Rangers is that they will be without Josh Hamilton for the next four weeks. An MRI showed a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring, and he will be placed on the disabled list with a corresponding move to be made Thursday.
“I feel bad for Josh,” manager Jeff Banister said.
Sale didn’t just contain Gallo, he contained nearly every Rangers hitter, finishing with 13 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings. The Rangers avoided a shutout in the eighth, when Mitch Moreland took a bases-loaded walk.
Delino DeShields, named the American League Rookie of the Month for May earlier in the day, collected two of the Rangers’ three hits against Sale, and Shin-Soo Choo walked twice.
Gallo saw 12 pitches, none of them fastballs, in his three at-bats against Sale, making contact only twice. The first pitch the left-handed hitter saw was a sweeping slider that had him leaning away from home plate as it crossed into the strike zone.
But he found a pitch he could handle from a different left-hander, Zach Duke, to start the ninth. Gallo swatted a Duke curveball 411 feet into the right-field stands.
“I thought my at-bats were getting progressively better throughout,” Gallo said.
By that time, the Rangers were down 9-1, thanks in part to a six-run second inning for the White Sox against Nick Martinez. Chicago sent 10 to the plate in an inning that was aided by left fielder Jake Smolinski misplaying a fly ball and included a two-run homer by Jose Abreu.
Martinez had his club-record streak of allowing three or fewer earned runs snapped at 16 starts.
“That second inning got away from him,” Banister said. “More than anything, it was not being able to find the range with the secondary stuff.”
Sale wasn’t going to allow a comeback. He retired the final 14 batters he faced, beginning with a line out by Elvis Andrus in the third inning after the Rangers had unsuccessfully challenged a foul call on a drive down the left-field line.
Sale struck out the side in the fourth, including Gallo on three pitches for the second out, and picked up two strikeouts in each of his final three innings.
“He just continued to get stronger as the night went on,” Banister said.
Though he was overmatched against Sale, Gallo said that he feels comfortable against left-handers. He didn’t see many of them at Frisco, with only 14 at-bats, and he had only 60 Double A at-bats against lefties in 2014.
The numbers would suggest a problem. Gallo was 2 for 14 this season in a small sample, but 13 for 74 (.176) since jumping from High A last June.
“I’ve always been OK off lefties,” said Gallo, who is a career .286 hitter against lefties in the minors. “In spring training, I did pretty good off lefties. I think the more you see them, you get used to it and adjusted to it and hopefully I get better at it.”
Banister was undeterred by Gallo’s numbers when putting him into a lineup that was missing Hamilton and designated hitter Prince Fielder (day off).
Gallo isn’t a platoon player, and he needs to begin making adjustments against lefties. Gallo could get another chance at a lefty Thursday with the White Sox intending to start is prized prospect Carlos Rodon.
“The more experiences he has going forward is only going to add value to him, to his process,” Banister said. “He’s going to have to face them some time.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760