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The fastest recorded throw Thursday night by a Texas Rangers player was not supplied by one of their six pitchers, though right-hander Josh Sborz came very close.
His 97.2 mph four-seam fastball in the seventh inning to Houston Astros star Jose Altuve was the fastest recorded by a Rangers pitcher, and was one of three he throw harder than 96 mph.
But the fastest throw, and the most important Rangers throw of the game, came from Gold Glove right fielder Joey Gallo.
He edged Sborz with a 97.3 mph throw home, where catcher Jonah Heim gloved the ball and tagged Chas McCormick as he tried to score the game-winning run in the 10th inning.
Instead, McCormick was the third out — the second coming when Gallo caught a flyball by Miles Straw — and the Rangers had another chance to pull ahead in the 11th. They didn’t, and the Astros did on a two-out wild pitch for a 4-3 victory.
Right-handed starter Mike Foltynewicz, long gone by the 10th, said Gallo is “a treasure out there in right field.”
Manager Chris Woodward, who early in 2020 predicted Gallo could win the Gold Glove, said, “There’s not too many right fielders that are making that throw.”
He’s right. It’s the fastest throw on an outfield assist since the start of last season, matching Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Roman Quinn’s throw May 2.
The throw is another way Gallo can contribute when he isn’t hitting, which has been the case the past month. Gallo is hitting .181 over the past 26 games, including an 0-for-15 slide he took into Friday at Minute Maid Park.
Gallo was out of the Rangers’ lineup to rest some lingering hamstring soreness that Woodward doesn’t want to see get any worse.
“It’s more of my decision to stop it now, get some treatment today, and hopefully he’s ready to go tomorrow,” Woodward said.
The day could also help Gallo clear his head and wrap his mind around what is happening at the plate.
Gallo had a power surge earlier this month and is up to six home runs after spending most of April stuck on one. With Nate Lowe hitting in front of him and Adolis Garcia behind him, Gallo is starting to see teams throw him more strikes — even though most of them are spinning.
That’s especially so from left-handed pitchers, Woodward said, and it’s something that requires Gallo make an adjustment. Rather than anticipating a fastball and reacting, Gallo might need to start doing the opposite and then figure out what he wants to do with them.
“I think he’s getting a little frustrated sometimes because he feels he’s not getting the pitches he wants,” Woodward said. “I think Joey has to learn that maybe the pitch he doesn’t want is the pitch he’s going to get for a reason.
“That may be a growing for moment for him, where in those big spots he’s got to shift off the fastball at times and look for something else and be able to hit that. If you can’t hit that, if you’re consistently getting out on those pitches, they’re going to keep throwing them.”
No matter what he’s doing at the plate, though, Gallo is going to keep throwing out runners as long as opponents keep choosing to test his arm.
That’s what most were still talking about Friday after his run-saving laser Thursday night.
“The one thing he’s really good at is when the game’s on the line or when we need it, he puts it right on the bag,” Woodward said. “He gives our catcher, wherever he’s throwing the ball, a good chance to get a guy out. With the game on the line like that to make that come through, it’s pretty special.”