Gallo can do no wrong in major league debut

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Joey Gallo struck out in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, the Texas Rangers' fans cheered loudly. Some of them even stood.


It was that kind of night for the most hyped and top-rated prospect in the Rangers' organization. Somehow, Gallo lived up to it.

In his major league debut, Gallo finished with three hits, including a home run, four RBIs and four runs scored.

Texas 15, Chicago 2.

"It was crazy. I didn't expect it to be that kind of night," Gallo said. "It's pretty amazing. It still hasn't really hit me yet. It was a lot of adrenaline. I'm just glad it's out of the way.

"The first at-bat, I just wanted to put the ball in play. After I got the first hit out of the way, I was able to relax and play. It was just like another game."

Gallo's parents -- his dad wore a dark blue and red minor league All-Star jersey, and his mom rocked a white Rangers jersey -- sat two rows from the field, about five feet from the Rangers' on-deck circle and a million miles away from the youth fields where Gallo first learned to play. During his son's first at-bat, Gallo's dad leaned forward and stared intently at the first pitch, a ball way inside. Gallo took a big swing and missed Jeff Samardzija's second pitch.

He ripped the third pitch toward first base, where it took a wicked hop and eluded first baseman Adam LaRoche. As the ball skidded into right field, Gallo's dad jumped up and celebrated with both arms raised. His mom clapped furiously.

While Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland scored the game's first runs, Gallo's parents received high-fives from folks sitting around them. A ball boy collected the souvenir ball as the crowd roared its approval.

In the third inning, Gallo showed the 27,558 in the stadium why he's such a big-time prospect.

He crushed a fastball 430 feet into the upper deck in right field -- the same place he had earlier deposited a couple of batting-practice fastballs on consecutive swings -- giving him four RBIs after two at-bats.

As he entered the dugout, the crowd continued cheering. Finally, Fielder motioned for the 21-year-old rookie to take a curtain call. Then Fielder gave him a big hug.

At that point, Gallo was trending on Twitter.

"You never know when it's going to happen again," Fielder said. "It was the first time he did something great like that. I wanted to make sure he enjoyed it."

Gallo nearly had a second homer in the fifth inning as the ball soared into the night. The Rangers' home run music blared from the speakers for a few seconds until someone figured out the ball wasn't going to wind up in the stands.

It hit the base of the wall in right-center field. A headfirst dive allowed Gallo to earn a double.

"The music kind of threw me off because I started jogging," Gallo said. "Then I said, 'Uh oh, I better get to second.' "

The hits were nice, but it was the eighth-inning walk after falling behind in the count 1-2 that made manager Jeff Banister smile.

Gallo fouled off consecutive 3-2 sliders before walking on the only fastball of the at-bat.

"I didn't know what else he could do," Banister said, "but the walk was pretty impressive. It came after a strikeout, but he stayed patient and controlled the strike zone."

Before we get all carried away, let's remember Jurickson Profar, once considered the baseball's top prospect, homered in his first major league at-bat in 2012. Well, he has missed the last two seasons because of shoulder problems. Gallo wore Profar's No. 13 against the White Sox.

Gallo will experience difficult times as scouts and pitchers in the American League determine his strengths and weaknesses. That's to be expected, especially for a player making the jump from Double-A -- at least until third baseman Adrian Beltre returns in a few weeks.

After his debut, expectations from fans will be ridiculously high because of the hype that accompanied Gallo, combined with his performance Tuesday night. The Rangers will do their best to keep the youngster from feeling pressure.

That's the primary reason Elvis Andrus hit fifth in the lineup Tuesday, with Gallo following. Banister doesn't want to send any subliminal messages.

"It was an incredible evening for the young man. Rarely do they come up and meet all the expectations their first night," Banister said. "All you had to do was listen to the crowd about his third time up and they let you know how he was doing.

"That was incredible. I can't describe really and truly how I feel getting to sit and watch it. It was really impressive night for a young man with a lot of hype that got here well before he did."

It's why the fans applauded the only out Gallo made