Yovani Gallardo found himself in a tough spot to open the season.
He was acquired by his hometown team to fill a big void in the rotation and to solidify their status as a contender.
But by early March, No. 1 starter Yu Darvish was out for the season and No. 2 starter Derek Holland wouldn’t be ready for the season opener. Gallardo found himself atop the Texas Rangers’ rotation, where high expectations are part of job.
He hasn’t been an ace like Chris Sale or David Price or Felix Hernandez, and his sub.-.500 record would suggest he has pitched like a No. 5 starter.
But Gallardo has fulfilled the No. 1 requirement of a starter, by giving his team a chance to win. He did that again Thursday night in the series finale against the Chicago White Sox, and the Rangers made good on the work he had done.
Shin-Soo Choo singled in Leonys Martin from second base in the 11th inning, giving the Rangers a 2-1 walk-off victory and a series win over the Chicago White Sox.
Gallardo allowed only three hits, two walks and an unearned run in six innings. It wasn’t easy for Gallardo, the Fort Worth resident, but, as the good ones do, he found a way to survive.
Gallardo hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of his 12 starts, and has allowed three or fewer in 10 of them.
“Gallardo grinded through his outing tonight, that’s who he is,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He doesn’t give in to hitters, he makes pitches, and he finds a way to get hitters out.”
It looked like Gallardo would be in for a short night after needing 28 pitches in a scoreless first inning. He was at 77 pitches with no outs in the fourth, an inning that started with third baseman Joey Gallo committing a throwing error on his first big league fielding chance.
“It was tough,” Gallardo said. “ I was fighting with my command but I made pitches when I had to and gave the team a chance to win.”
Avisail Garcia then moved to third on a single by Alexei Ramirez and scored an unearned run as Gordon Beckham followed with a sacrifice fly.
But Gallardo continued getting outs, retiring nine of the final 10 he faced and working around a Hanser Alberto error to start the sixth. When Jon Edwards trotted to the mound to start the seventh, Gallardo had allowed only three hits and two walks on 106 pitches.
He survived by executing pitches when he needed them. He got Ramirez on a flyout to end the first and leave the bases loaded. In the second, Gallardo snagged an Adam Eaton grounder to the mound with Beckham at second.
The White Sox scored in the fourth, but just once despite having runners at the corners and no outs.
That’s good pitching.
The Rangers’ offense wasn’t any more effective against rookie Carlos Rodon, though they had their chances early. The first three Rangers hitters reached in the first, when Delino DeShields doubled, Choo walked, and Prince Fielder brought in DeShields with a slow roller that snuck into center field.
Rodon, though, stranded Choo at third by striking out the next three batters, Mitch Moreland, Elvis Andrus and Gallo. Those were the first of 10 strikeouts for Rodon, who got Moreland, Andrus, Gallo and Robinson Chirinos twice each.
The No. 4-7 hitters went 0 for 11 against Rodon.
The Rangers kept missing scoring chances after Rodon had exited. Choo and Moreland missed in the seventh with DeShields at second, and Alberto bounced into a double play with the bases loaded to end the eighth.
In the 10th, pinch-runner Adam Rosales was doubled off second base on a soft line drive by Chirinos. The Rangers had stranded 12 runners by then and were only 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position, and one of those hits didn’t score a run.
But Martin singled to start the 11th and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alberto. The White Sox intentionally walked DeShields, and Choo made them pay with a single past the infield shift off lefty Dan Jennings.
Martin scored easily, giving the Rangers their second walk-off win on a 5-2 homestand. The offense also made good on another good start by Gallardo.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760