ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Zac Gallen extends scoreless streak to 28 innings, retakes throne as MLB strikeout king

Apr 26, 2023, 6:06 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks Zac Gallen...

Starting pitcher Zac Gallen #23 of the Arizona Diamondbacks walks to the dugout after being removed by manager Torey Lovullo #17 during the seventh inning of the MLB game against the Kansas City Royals at Chase Field on April 26, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Death. Taxes. A Zac Gallen scoreless innings streak.

The Arizona Diamondbacks (14-12) ace extended his consecutive frames tally of not allowing a run to 28.0 in a 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals (6-19) at Chase Field for a Wednesday matinee game in front of 14,343 fans.

Gallen (4-1) finished the day with a season-high 12 strikeouts — one shy of his career high of 13 — while only allowing four hits and not allowing a walk for the third straight start.

“Didn’t feel great going into the game, was having trouble finding the window — just the feel that I felt was really good last time,” Gallen said postgame. “What’s the cliche saying that like you have your best stuff five times and so the other 20 (starts) you got to kind of just make it up?

“(Catcher) Jose (Herrera) called a really good game. We were on the same page for the most part. Just try to make pitches really and just throw up zeros.”

The 27-year-old right-hander also retakes the throne as MLB’s strikeout king with a league-leading total of 51 Ks.

And according to OptaSTATS, Gallen is the only Major League pitcher in the modern era to have 40+ strikeouts and a WHIP under 0.50 without allowing a run across a four-start span.

“The Milkman” delivered yet again as the Diamondbacks stopper, giving Arizona a win in his start after losing the game prior.

In fact, Gallen had a streak of 12 consecutive batters retired from the third through the sixth innings, which featured a total of nine strikeouts, including six in a row and eight of nine.

And after winning the National League Player of the Week on April 17, the D-backs No. 1 starter has a pretty good case for winning Pitcher of the Month following his final start of April — and a potential run for his first Cy Young Award if this dominance continues.

In five starts this month, Gallen has a 4-0 record with a 1.09 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, .157 batting average against and 44 strikeouts to two walks.

“I think last year the changeup wasn’t as involved as it is,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said postgame. “Now that’s just off the top of my head, I could be totally wrong. I think it was fastball, breaking ball, maybe slider/cutter. The changeup is involved in his game plan and looks like that pitch is locked in for him, so you’re throwing one more piece into this equation.

“He just comes out much more effective and he hits lines. One time I yelled out to an umpire after looking at a couple pitches … ‘Hey this guy is that good. He will hit the edge of the white line, so you got to make sure you stay with all his pitches.’ That’s how good he is right now and how locked in he is.”

ONE RUN ENOUGH FOR GALLEN

With Gallen continuing toward his franchise record of 44.1 scoreless innings set last year, the Diamondbacks only needed two runs to secure their 14th win of the season and stay right with the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the NL West Division standings.

Arizona third baseman Evan Longoria brought in the game’s first run on a two-out broken-bat RBI single to left field off Kansas City starter Ryan Yarbrough (0-3) in the bottom of the fourth.

The very next frame, former Royals and now D-backs infielder Emmanuel Rivera, who was recalled from Triple-A Reno on Tuesday, got the only other RBI in the ballgame on a base hit up the middle against his old club — also with two outs.

That lead was enough for the combination of relievers Scott McGough (0.2 IP), Miguel Castro (1.0) and Andrew Chafin (1.0) to close out the ballgame for Chafin’s fourth save of the season and another series win for Arizona.

“I’m super stoked we won this series,” Lovullo said. “We needed it after losing three of four to the (San Diego) Padres, so I was just proud of the way we fought.

“Emmanuel Rivera — it’s nice to always get big base hits against your former team. … Good day, onward to Colorado.”

UP NEXT

The Diamondbacks head to Denver to take on the Rockies on Friday at 5:40 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

Arizona’s No. 2 starter Merrill Kelly (1-3, 3.42 ERA) is scheduled to go against Colorado left-hander Kyle Freeland (2-2, 4.28 ERA).

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