Joey Gallo stops rough start to the season with a homer and adds 2 more hits: 'Thank God.'

Wed, Apr 3, 2024
MLB News (AP)

Joey Gallo stops rough start to the season with a homer and adds 2 more hits: 'Thank God.'

WASHINGTON (AP) - This, then, is what was running through Joey Gallo's mind as the miss-or-mash slugger for the Washington Nationals rounded the bases after his 447-foot, second-deck homer ended an 0-for-12 start to 2024: "Thank God. I did something good."

And this is what his new manager, Dave Martinez, was saying in the dugout after the ball left the yard in a hurry Wednesday night in what became a 5-3 victory for Washington against the previously unbeaten Pittsburgh Pirates: "Oh, yes!"

Gallo entered the day with a batting average of .000 and finished at .188 after going 3-for-4 with that massive solo shot in the second inning, a double to right in the third and a single in the seventh. It was part of a 10-hit attack for the Nationals, who came in with a 1-3 record but can try to claim the three-game series against Pittsburgh with a win in the finale on Thursday.

"At the beginning of the year, obviously you want to start off really well, so if you don't, it is kind of a battle. But you just stick with it and not get too down because you're 0-for-whatever," said Gallo, a 30-year-old first baseman who signed a one-year, $5 million contract as a free agent this offseason.

READ MORE After long rain delay, Encarnacion-Strand, Elly De La Cruz carry Reds past Phillies, 4-1 Eovaldi strikes out 8 in 7 shutout innings as Rangers beat Rays 4-1 Joey Gallo goes from 0-for-12 to 3 hits, including a homer, and the Nationals beat the Pirates 5-3

"I didn't really feel like I was slumping or anything," he said, shrugging his shoulders with both hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. "I just felt like things didn't go right for me."

Gallo hit .177 with 21 homers, 40 RBIs and 142 strikeouts for the Minnesota Twins last season, his ninth in the major leagues.

It was his fourth in a row batting below .200 - but that span also included an All-Star season in 2021 with 38 homers.

His next longball will be the 200th of his career.

"We know he's got tremendous power, and we were all rooting and hoping it eventually would come out," second baseman Luis Garcia Jr., who tied a Nationals single-game record with three doubles Wednesday, said through an interpreter. "Luckily tonight, he showed it and it definitely made a difference. I was very excited for him - and it definitely helped relax (the team)."

Indeed, Gallo's eyes widened, as did his smile, when asked what his teammates' reaction was after he drove an 89 mph pitch from Pirates starter Mitch Keller over the wall in right-center.

"Pretty fired up," the left-handed hitting Gallo said. "We really have a great team chemistry. ... They were very happy for me. That always makes you feel really good."

Before his solo shot, Washington trailed 2-0.

His drive began a nine-batter, four-run inning and the Nationals were on their way.

"He's been doing it for a long time. It's a special talent, to see what he does," said Washington starter Trevor Williams (1-0), who allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. "The threat to leave the yard is always there."

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HOWARD FENDRICH Fendrich is an Associated Press national writer based in Washington, D.C. He reports on tennis and other sports. twitter mailto "
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