PHILADELPHIA – Joey Gallo is the Vesuvius of baseball, lying dormant for what seems like an eternity, then suddenly and shockingly erupting with a fury.
Citizens Bank Park was his Pompeii on Saturday night.
Gallo, long since swallowed up by an offensive drought of historic proportions, blasted two home runs into the outfield seats, knocked another pitch off the right-field wall for a single, added a career-high fourth hit in the ninth, and helped the Twins shake off a slump of their own. His team racked up four homers overall, Pablo López quieted an announced crowd of 40,117 with six shutout innings, and the Twins ended their losing streak at four games with an 8-1 thrashing of the Phillies.
“It was good. It’s nice to produce and help the team win,” said Gallo, who became the first Twins player to reach 20 home runs this season. “Obviously I haven’t been hitting [much], but I’ve been feeling good lately, putting good at-bats together, taking my walks when I can. It’s good when things come together like that.”
For Gallo, even a three-hit night — which also included a walk and, gulp, zero strikeouts — was a long time coming. More than four months, in fact. Gallo’s most recent three-hit game was back on April 2 at Kansas City, in the season’s third game. In the interim, Gallo has suffered through a series of extended slumps, but none as horrific as the last couple of months. Gallo entered Saturday’s game with only two hits in August, and only eight (in 67 at-bats, or .119) since July 1. He was 4-for-42 since July 18, then 4-for-4 — against four different pitchers — on Saturday.
On a team that suffers regular offensive blackouts, including two shutout losses this past week, a sudden Gallo turnaround provided plenty of relief for a frustrated Twins clubhouse.
“He’s such a good teammate — he’s the same guy every day, 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. He just keeps working and working,” said Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers, who reached base three times himself Saturday. “If he shut it down, dug himself a hole and not talk to anybody, it might be different. But he’s so good at being the same guy, we’re all there just pulling him along, rooting for him. We know a day like today is in there.”
He wasn’t the only contributor, of course. Even Phillies starter Taijuan Walker, who was briefly a free-agent target of the Twins last winter, chipped in, walking six batters and hitting another in five erratic innings. His three first-inning walks helped produce the Twins’ first run without a hit.
“As a team, we just took really good at-bats today. Everybody was seeing the ball well, it seemed like,” Gallo said. “It was a great team approach against [Walker].”
Matt Wallner whacked a fourth-inning curveball from Walker into the right-field stands, his eighth homer of the season. Two batters later, Gallo lifted a low-and-away splitter high in the air the opposite way. It kept drifting deeper and finally landed in the first row in left.
Carlos Correa opened the inning with a screamer into the seats in left-center, his 15th home run of the season and 12th solo shot. Wallner later singled home Max Kepler, who had doubled, and Gallo capped the inning with a three-run blast — a 412-foot cannon shot into the second deck in right field, reclaiming the Twins’ home run lead from Kepler.
“If there’s a good pitch in the zone, I try to get a good swing off. It was great — it’s always nice to hit home runs,” Gallo said. “I don’t remember my last four-hit game. I don’t even know if I’ve ever had a four-hit game in the big leagues before.”
He has, in 2019 while with Texas.
It was all more than enough for López, who has been as hot this month as Gallo has been cold. The righthander gave up only four hits in six innings, striking out six.
“The play of the game. Really, taking a big inning away from the Phillies,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “When you make a play like that, you’re not only saving a run, but you could be saving more than one because you’re taking an extra-base hit away.”
Instead, López departed with his fourth shutout outing of the season. In his past four starts, López has a 1.45 ERA and a strikeout/walk ratio of 35-to-4.