In recent weeks, Yovani Gallardo has grown accustomed to keeping opponents off the scoreboard, but what he did on Saturday was spectacular even by his recent standard.
The veteran righty, who was brought in this winter to be the Rangers' No. 3 starter and instead was thrust into the role of the team's ace due to injuries to Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, extended his career-long scoreless inning streak to 23 1/3 by working 8 1/3 shutout innings against arguably the American League's scariest lineup in the Toronto Blue Jays, the league's leader in team OPS. It was the first time the Blue Jays had been shut out against an AL team this year.
“I’ve been pounding the strike zone,” Gallardo told the Dallas Morning News. “Earlier in the year, I was trying too hard to make the perfect pitch. You get ahead of guys, it makes it a lot easier to do other things.”
That new approach has led Gallardo to the best single month in franchise history in terms of ERA, as he posted a 0.54 ERA in 33 1/3 June innings, thanks to his new reliance on ground ball outs instead of strikeouts.
To his longtime teammate in Milwaukee, Prince Fielder, Gallardo is the same ol' pitcher he always was, but the approach has definitely been different.
“To me, he’s still the game guy,” Fielder told the DMN. “He’s still locating the fastball and throwing the curveball.”
If Gallardo can keep this up — or even some likeness of it — it would be huge for a Rangers' rotation that has actually been very good since mid-May but is still starving for an ace and a stopper. On Saturday, Gallardo was a stopper, ending a six-game skid before another loss on Sunday. Now, he'll look to continue that scoreless streak his next time out when the Angels come to town.