Texas Rangers

Joey Gallo’s first swing in an All-Star Game was a thing of beauty

Joey Gallo was the only Texas Rangers player available to play in the All-Star Game but he made the most of it.

Gallo sent the first pitch he saw in the seventh inning into the right-field stands for a solo home run to give the American League a 4-1 lead at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. The AL held on to win 4-3.

“Running to first, watching, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I just hit a home run in the All-Star Game. First swing,’” Gallo said. “Running around the bases I was like, ‘Wow, there are lot of people watching this game, a lot of people here.’ In front of the best players in the world … it was pretty special.”

Gallo’s lone at-bat came with the bases empty and two outs after a run-scoring double play. Giants’ left-hander Will Smith replaced Brandon Woodruff to face Gallo. Statcast measured the homer at 112 mph and 397 feet.

Smith had allowed only two homers to left-handed hitters in the past three seasons combined, according to The Athletics’ Jayson Stark.

Gallo, 25, replaced Yankees’ short stop Jorge Polanco in the sixth inning in the ninth spot in the order. He played left field.

It’s Gallo’s first All-Star appearance. He was added as a reserve. Gallo said he was just trying to put the ball in play.

“Just to be in the game was really cool. I was nervous, obviously, and went up there [thinking], ‘if he throws a strike, I’m swinging,’” he said. “It ended up working out for me. It was a pretty special moment for me in my career.”

He’s the first Rangers’ player to homer in an All-Star Game since Mark Teixeira in 2005 at Detroit. It’s the fifth time a Texas player has homered in the All-Star Game. The others are Ruben Sierra in 1992, Hank Blalock in 2003, and Alfonso Soriano in 2004.

Gallo’s homer is the hardest-hit base hit in the Statcast era (since 2015) in an All-Star Game. He’s the third player since 2000 to homer on the first pitch he saw in his first All-Star Game. The others are David Wright (2006) and Willson Contreras (2018).

Designated hitter Hunter Pence was voted as the American League’s starting DH but was unavailable because of groin injury. Rangers’ left-hander Mike Minor was also unavailable.

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.