ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Slugger Joey Gallo has played a key role late in all three wins by the Texas Rangers this season, and with more than the long ball.
Gallo grounded a hard single through the right side of the infield, a tiebreaking two-run hit in the seventh inning that went between two diving infielders as the Rangers beat the Houston Astros 6-4 on Tuesday night.
“He’s putting himself in very good situations and trusting his swing, controlling the moment,” new manager Chris Woodward said. “A lot of guys are, pretty much everybody in big spots. I think that’s why we’re getting it done late in games because everybody’s kind of committed to this idea … and having a game plan for those big moments.”
The Rangers are already over .500 for the second time this season after not having a winning record at any point last year.
In their first win Saturday night against the Chicago Cubs, Gallo hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning. He finished that opening series with a ninth-inning double, then scored the game-ending run on a wild pitch.
“He’s been really good,” Rougned Odor said.
Asdrubal Cabrera, the new Texas third baseman after Adrian Beltre retired, homered for the third time. Cabrera’s two-run shot in the second tied the game at 2 against Justin Verlander, the Astros opening-day starter who didn’t make it out of the fifth inning in his second game.
“They did a good job of spoiling some good pitches, not swinging at some good ones, and kinda boxing me into an area where they knew there was a high probability to get a fastball. And they took advantage of it,” Verlander said. “Couldn’t find the right rhythm all day today.”
Verlander was gone after back-to-back RBI singles by Andrus and Nomar Mazara put Texas up 4-3 with no outs in the fifth. The right-hander allowed six hits and three walks — matching the total three batters walked by Astros pitchers over 42 innings in first five games.
“We had a plan against him. We are not going to fear anybody,” Woodward said. “We made him work for everything. He knew right away we were coming after him.”
Shawn Kelly (2-0) threw 1 1/3 innings in his third appearance for the Rangers. Jose Leclerc worked a perfect ninth for his second save.
Odor started the decisive seventh with a bunt single that was beyond the reach of lefty Framber Valdez (0-1) coming off the mound. Elvis Andrus had a double before Gallo pulled a hard one-out grounder that split between second baseman Jose Altuve and first baseman Yuli Gurriel.
The Rangers start the season off at a 3-2 record.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)