The Texas Rangers weren’t supposed to do particularly well in a tough division last year, especially when they had to deal with key injuries early. When the season’s dust settled – and after lefty starter Cole Hamels joined the club in late July – the Rangers had created enough momentum to win the AL West.
“It was definitely an exciting year. There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the year,” said Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo, who was 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in his lone season with the Rangers in 2015. “Going into spring training, everybody pretty much counted us out from Day One, when injuries happened and that sort of thing. It gave us the opportunity to show what we were capable of. And we went out there and competed and ended up winning the division. We were excited all year, and I think hearing all of that kind of news motivated us to kind of prove a lot of people wrong.”
Gallardo, who starts for the Orioles tonight in Arlington, Texas against his old club, says it’s easy to draw parallels between that Rangers squad and his current team.
“I think it is something similar. This year, (baseball experts) have been saying the same things about us since Day One,” Gallardo said. “And we are excited, motivated. It motivates us to go out there and play hard each and every day and prove a lot of people wrong. At the end of the season, when we do accomplish something, it’ll be a good feeling.”
Gallardo will be one of the main keys in determining how successful the 2016 Orioles can be. He doesn’t have to be an ace; he just needs to be steady and consistent and give the club a chance to win for five to six innings before turning the ball over to an excellent bullpen. Unfortunately, it’s basically the formula for most of the rotation; but particularly so in Gallardo’s case.
In his first start for the Orioles, Gallardo allowed one run in five innings and got the win. In his next start, he allowed five runs in five innings and received a no decision.
His third start of the season comes tonight at a ballpark 25 minutes from where he grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. He expects a lot of family members to be there.
“I’m sure they’ll be wearing the Orioles hats and that sort of thing,” Gallardo said. “It’s always exciting to go back home and see family members and give them a chance to come out to the ballpark – and if you have the chance to pitch and throw in that series, it makes it even better.”
Because he spent most of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, facing the Rangers doesn’t carry too much significance – but he’ll always look back favorably at his one year pitching for the team he watched as a child.
His last game for the Rangers was last October 8, when he allowed two runs in five innings and picked up the win in the first game of the American League Division Series against Toronto. He was in line to pitch the fifth game, but Hamels drew that assignment; the Rangers ultimately lost. Had they won, Gallardo would have started Game 1 of the ALCS versus the Kansas City Royals.
“As a young kid, you always want to have that dream. That dream to put on that uniform for your home team and be a part of that, especially in the playoffs. Game 1 is an important game, to have that opportunity, that privilege, it was exciting,” Gallardo said. “I think (my time in Texas) ended on a good note. You always want to end on a good note. It’s just another chapter in my career and I’ve started another one here in Baltimore. And I’m excited about that.”
Just as they drew it up
Raise your hand if Friday night’s 11-5 victory over the Texas Rangers is the script you had dreamed of and prayed for when this Orioles team was assembled in the offseason.
Everybody in the room? OK. Hope you enjoyed it.
Starting pitcher Vance Worley allowed five runs (four earned), all in the second inning, but ultimately gutted out six innings. The bullpen held steady for three more frames while the offense bashed the opposition into submission.
Four homers and nine runs against three Rangers pitchers in the seventh. Five home runs for the game including two each by Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop.
Trumbo becomes the first Oriole to homer twice in the same inning. The club has homered four times in one inning just twice before in modern franchise history.
A 5-1 deficit flipped into an 11-5 lead in an eyelash.
Power is the most sought after tool in baseball, and the Orioles’ shed is currently stuffed with it.
When it all comes together, it’s mighty entertaining. Exhibit A: last night.
Obviously, there will be some games where the Orioles’ power gets completely shut off by good pitching. With a lot of all-or-nothing sluggers, those power outages could result in some rough stretches. And you always have to be concerned the power plug gets pulled in the postseason.
But when the power is shining, when Orioles’ hitters are crushing homer after homer, it’s probably best to just enjoy the moment. They don’t come around often. But, then again, they might this season.