MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Joey Gallo hit another massive homer, a three-run shot in the fourth inning on Thursday night that spurred the Texas Rangers on to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
A.J. Griffin (5-2) made his first start in more than two months, giving up one run on two hits over six innings in a resounding return from a muscle strain around his chest. He last started on May 26 and last won on May 9.
Gallo has 29 home runs this season, with four long balls in the last three games. After swinging and missing twice at sliders from Twins starter Adalberto Mejia (4-5), Gallo let one go in the dirt. Then he drove the next one into the front of the second deck above right-center field with two outs to break the tie.
Twins center fielder Byron Buxton just turned around and stared straight up as the ball soared over his head, estimated by Major League Baseball's Statcast tracking system at a distance of 430 feet and a velocity of 108 mph.
Though still prone to extended slumps and voluminous strikeouts, the 23-year-old Gallo has capably settled in after two seasons of back-and-forth to the minor leagues. Only Josh Hamilton in 2012 hit more home runs at this point in the season in Rangers history.
This was Gallo's first major league game at Target Field, where he put on a show three years ago at the All-Star Futures game with a long home run and a batting practice bop that broke a window on a truck parked on the plaza beyond right field for a promotional purpose.
Mejia let the first three Rangers batters reach base, with Nomar Mazara driving in a run with a single, but the rookie lefty rebounded to not only strike out the side but fan the first two hitters of the second inning too. Mejia was one strike away from escaping the fateful fourth, too, until Gallo made him pay for the slider that caught too much of the plate.
Dillon Gee relieved Mejia to start the fifth, becoming the franchise-record 30th pitcher used by the Twins this season.
Rangers: Griffin came off the 60-day DL, where he went with what was diagnosed as a strained left intercostal muscle. RHP Clayton Blackburn, who was on the roster for three days but did not pitch, was sent to Triple-A Round Rock to make room on the roster.
Twins: RHP Trevor May played catch for the first time since having Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on March 22.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (5-9, 5.13 ERA) pitches on Friday night, after a season-most eight runs allowed in 4 1/3 innings against Baltimore in his last turn. He has lost three straight starts.
Twins: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-9, 7.70 ERA) takes the mound for the fourth time since joining the team following his release by Atlanta. The 44-year-old has given up 10 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings, without a victory. Manager Paul Molitor also announced RHP Kyle Gibson would start on Saturday, his first turn in two weeks.
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