Prince Fielder was hitting .287 but he was supposed to get the night off against the three-time Cy Young winner. That plan changed when Kyle Blanks was scratched from the lineup with inflammation in both Achilles tendons.
That left the Rangers with five left-handed hitters in the lineup against the toughest left-handed pitcher in baseball. But Fielder, Gallo and Odor all had big hits off Kershaw and combined for all the Rangers' RBIs in Wednesday night's 5-3 victory.
"Outstanding," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "You don't see a lot of teams roll out that many left-handers against that guy. But the one thing we did in Spring Training was make sure all our left-handed hitters faced as many left-handers as possible. It's paying off for us. Anytime time a left-handed hitter does something off Clayton Kershaw, it's special."
Fielder, who was 2-for-12 in his career against Kershaw in his career, got the Rangers started in the second inning with a leadoff double. He went to third on Adam Rosales' single and scored when Odor had a blooper drop into center field. Odor didn't get a hit off that because Rosales had to hold up to see if the ball would be caught and was forced out at second base by center fielder Chris Heisey. Odor still got an RBI out of it.
Gallo came up in the third inning with a runner on first and two out. The runner on first was pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who had led off the inning with a single. Kershaw struck out the next two hitters but Gallo, who had whiffed in his first at-bat, jumped on the first pitch and crushed one deep into the right-field seats for his fifth home run. That gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
"I think it was a slider," Gallo said. "I had a pretty good at-bat my first at-bat. I went to 3-2 in the count so I saw a lot of pitches and that helped. I was just looking for anything to put the barrel on. It's tough to go up there and look for any one thing when you've never faced him before."
The Rangers got a couple of breaks in the fourth as Rosales struck out to lead off the inning but reached when catcher A.J. Ellis couldn't handle the third strike and then couldn't find it even though it had only rolled a few feet away.
A balk moved Rosales to second and Odor brought him home with a single to center. Those were the only hits by left-handed hitters off Kershaw but the Rangers managed to maximize the damage inflicted. Fielder added a home run in the ninth off of right-handed reliever Josh Ravin.