D-backs’ Zac Gallen Ks 11 to become MLB’s strikeout leader in win over Padres

Apr 21, 2023, 11:15 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen...

Starting pitcher Zac Gallen #23 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of the game at Chase Field on April 21, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen has his eyes set on the first Cy Young Award of his career.

“The Milkman” — now 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA — delivered once again at Chase Field, hurling seven scoreless innings and striking out 11 Padres in a 9-0 win over San Diego on Friday night.

He also didn’t give up a walk and only allowed two baserunners in the ballgame — a Xander Bogaerts double in the second and a Fernando Tatis Jr. single that ended a 14-consecutive batters retired streak.

The Padres’ first four hitters of Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Bogaerts combined to go 2-for-13 (.154) with five strikeouts.

“Today was a special day for Zac Gallen,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said postgame. “He had all this stuff, he had all his pitches working.

“You see some very defensive swings from some really good hitters and you know that he’s on his game. … Not only was his stuff crisp, but his game planning was unbelievable. He looked like he was just one step ahead of everybody on the field today.”

The D-backs’ right-hander added to his scoreless innings streak — which is now up to 21.2 — that awarded him National League Player of the Week honors on Monday. Gallen set the franchise record last season at 44.1.

“Even the last two starts, Milwaukee and Miami, I felt OK, didn’t feel great,” Gallen said postgame. “Just been kind of trying to iron out the kinks really.

“For me, everything is very delivery-based and very feel-based. Feel like I had a pretty good feel today going in the game.”

After allowing nine runs in his first two starts of the season, Gallen has only given up seven hits and one walk while striking out 29 batters in 20.2 innings over his last three outings — all of which were Diamondbacks wins.

The adjustment? Going back to an old pair of cleats.

“For me, it’s all about my (trail) foot and just started feeling a lot more comfortable, especially with all four, five pitches,” Gallen said. “Just kind of was getting a little toe-y, spinning out, tendency to kind of make my pitch act a little differently, kind of mess with command.

“So I went back to some old cleats from last year, kind of give me a better feel for the ground. Felt like I was staying a little bit more connected, playing catch and throughout my delivery just kind of felt stronger and a little bit more powerful.”

Lovullo said pregame that the struggles in Gallen’s first two starts had to do with not getting first-pitch strikes. The right-hander managed to throw a first-pitch strike to 14 of the 23 batters (61%) he faced on Friday night.

“This one definitely stands out to me,” Lovullo said. “He was in total control of every pitch he threw today and I know he’s throwing some purpose pitches out of the zone too to evacuate the zone and then would make a quality pitch following that up.

“To me, that’s the art of pitching. He did a great job today.”

Gallen’s strikeout tally went up to 39 on the year, the most in Major League Baseball after Friday’s slate of games. The 11-K performance was also his seventh double-digit strikeout game in a D-backs uniform, giving him sole possession of the eighth-most in franchise history.

Gallen had his entire repertoire working on Friday night, getting the Padres to whiff 20 times, which was spread pretty evenly over his four pitches: fastball (8), curveball (6), changeup (5) and cutter (1).

“I think he hunts strikeouts. I think his stuff allows him to finish hitters off,” Lovullo said. “He doesn’t waste pitches and he’s not just a power pitcher. He’s got power there, but he can also do three or four other things to get you out.

“He lands pitches. He lands three or four different pitches. He clearly had a cutter-curveball-changeup combination going off of his fastball. So to me, that’s somebody who is continuing to pitch even though he does display a lot of power.”


The NL West-leading D-backs (12-9) will host the Padres (10-12) in the third of the four-game set on Saturday at 5:40 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and

Arizona right-hander Merrill Kelly (1-2, 2.53 ERA) is scheduled to start against San Diego righty Joe Musgrove, who is making his first start of the season.

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