ARLINGTON, Texas — It was Joey Gallo Night on Tuesday at Globe Life Park, where the Texas Rangers’ highly touted prospect made a spectacular major-league debut with a two-run single in his first at-bat, a two-run home run in his second and a double off the wall in his third in a 15-2 rout of the White Sox.
The Sox’ trifling effort, on the other hand, was exactly what manager Robin Ventura warned against after the team enjoyed a welcome day off in the wake of a stretch of 18 games in 17 days. The Sox had shown signs of raising their level of play by splitting those 18 games and by going 4-4 in the first eight games of a tough 11-game road trip.
‘‘You play so hard for so many days in a row, and it is grueling,’’ Ventura said before the game. ‘‘When you get your off day, you relax for a little. But the biggest thing is — especially for the way they’ve been battling and grinding stuff out — you want to make sure they snap back in mentally to where they were before.’’
The Rangers scored four runs in the first inning against Sox starter Jeff Samardzija, so there goes your snapping back. The nine runs and 12 hits were both career highs over Samardzija’s 233 outings including 110 starts. He has given up 16 runs in the first inning for a team that’s been outscored 45-14 in first innings this season.
All nine runs were earned, but the Sox’ defense did little to help.
Gallo’s first hit went through first baseman Adam LaRoche, playing deep, for a ‘‘bad-hop single’’ as announced by the official scorer. It could have been the third out and would have gotten Samardzija (4-3) out of the inning with no damage.
“For the most part you would expect him to make that play,’’ Ventura said. “After that, it was like the floodgates opened.’’
Just before Shin-Soo Choo homered in the fourth, left fielder Melky Cabrera stopped short near the side wall on a foul fly near the corner that could have been caught, giving Choo another swing. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez wasn’t quick to a ground ball that rolled beneath his glove for another hit in the Rangers’ four-run sixth.
Samardzija said he left too many pitches up in the strike zone, and “we had some success away but every time we got in we didn’t get in far enough.’’
After taking two of three from the Astros in Houston last weekend, the loss was another display of the Sox’ struggle for consistency.
‘‘We’re not to the point where we want to be yet, but we feel the arrow’s pointing up,’’ general manager Rick Hahn, who is with the team in Arlington, said before the game. ‘‘We’ve gotten some more consistency here over the last few weeks.
‘‘There certainly is plenty of time to put ourselves back in the position to win [the American League Central], which was our goal from the start.’’
Whether the Sox, who fell to 23-27 and are last in the division, are buyers or sellers near the trade deadline in late July depends on whether they get into position. Hahn said he is preparing for both possibilities.
‘‘We have to,’’ he said. ‘‘The marching orders for our scouts heading out of spring training was looking at our positions of need at the big-league level and targeting guys to help shore those up for a stretch run.
‘‘At the same time, we have our pro scouts out at the minor-league level preparing for — should we need to go the other way — and looking at more prospect-focused deals. At this point, our intent is to look to add at the deadline and put ourselves in a better position to win.’’
The Sox got their two runs on a homer by Adam Eaton against Rangers starter Colby Lewis (5-3).
“We made some good steps in Houston, we played well there, just Jekyll and Hyde,” Eaton said. “We come out and we play well for two or three games in Houston, played well and then we come here and do that. It’s two games left in the series, we can still take it. Just one of those days.”
“You can put this one behind you,” Ventura said. “There are [games] you have a chance of winning that you maybe give away at the end or have a chance to score and don’t score. We had no chance tonight. You can put this one behind you and play tomorrow. This one, you just get your [butt] kicked.”