Gallardo's first-inning struggles: 21 runs in 21 innings -
Dan Connolly

Gallardo’s first-inning struggles: 21 runs in 21 innings


Yovani Gallardo certainly hasn’t acquitted himself well in the first year of his two-year, $22 million deal with the Orioles.

You know that.

After allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, Gallardo is 5-8 with a 5.77 ERA.

He’s been good at times and awful at times – allowing three runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts, but six or more in the other two.

The inconsistency is maddening for a veteran whom the Orioles signed to help bring stability to the rotation.

But there has been one consistent part of Gallardo’s game – this year and throughout his career. And it’s pretty head-shaking. He absolutely struggles in the first inning.

To begin Thursday’s outing, Gallardo walked the first two batters he faced on a total of 11 pitches. On his 12th pitch, he served up a three-run homer to Evan Longoria, putting his team immediately in a hole.

“He’s not the only one who’s ever done it,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He had a good bullpen and seemed ready. It’s one of those things you’d like to see him get the first couple hitters under his belt. We all know what Yovani’s capable of. … He’s been searching for that consistency that he’s capable of and it just hasn’t happened. As much as it may be frustrating for whoever, it’s double that for Yovani.”

If you feel like this has happened before, well, you’re right.

Gallardo has made 21 starts this year. He has given up 21 runs in 21 first innings – a 9.00 ERA. He’s allowed 47 earned runs in his remaining 85 innings for a 4.98 ERA.

In his last four starts, Gallardo has allowed nine total runs in the first inning, including surrendering at least one homer in the first inning in each of those four games.

You want even more proof of his struggles?

Consider this: Gallardo has allowed 21 runs in the first inning this season and 16 in the second and third combined.

The explanation?

“Just falling behind guys,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 thing.”

This isn’t anything new for Gallardo. The 30-year-old right-hander struggles more in the first inning than any other frame in his career. By a lot.

His career ERA in the first is now 5.06. It’s under 4.00 in every other inning but the sixth (4.34), which is often his final inning pitched.

He’s also given up 36 homers in the first inning in his career and no more than 30 in any other inning. And it’s not as if he’s pitched a whole lot more first innings than second or third or fourth innings in his career (he’s thrown in 265 first and second innings, 263 third innings and 259 fourth innings).

Gallardo is not alone in this first-inning-woes concept, though. The Orioles’ rotation has allowed 100 runs in the first inning in 146 games this year. The inning with the second most runs scored by the opposition is the 6th, when the Orioles have allowed 92.

By the way, the Orioles scored four in the first Thursday, to give them 84 on the season. They’ve scored more in the fourth, fifth and seventh this year.

They need to score in bunches, of course. They’re seemingly often in a hole after the first.



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