Zac Gallen adds to Cy Young case, D-backs pick up 2-game sweep of Rangers
Aug 22, 2023, 11:51 PM
(Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks got what they needed from ace Zac Gallen over six effective innings and completed a two-game series sweep over the Texas Rangers at Chase Field Tuesday night with a 6-3 win.
Gallen struck out 11 batters and allowed one earned run in the victory, and his offense backed him up with a 6-1 lead by the time he exited the game. He’s allowed four runs over 26.1 innings across his last four starts, and the last three have resulted in wins.
The D-backs have won four straight games and nine of their last 11 as they continue to put a nine-game losing streak firmly behind them. The victory shot Arizona back into playoff position in the third National League Wild Card spot.
“Just tried to keep us on a roll. We played really well last night, came back to win so tried to keep that rolling,” Gallen said. “We have some really important games the next five to six weeks. I mean, anything to kind of keep us in the right direction.”
Gallen said he continues to feel sharper after a “rough patch” that started before the All-Star Game and extended in July.
Tuesday was his seventh straight appearance of at least six innings, as he continues to battle in a tight NL Cy Young battle. He was second in the NL in fWAR at 4.5, third in FIP at 3.06 and fourth in ERA at 3.17 entering his latest performance.
The righty leaned on his top three pitches against Texas, starting with a heavy dose of fastballs and working in more knuckle curves and changeups. He left the slider at home, saying it didn’t feel great in the bullpen and that he didn’t want to get beat on his fourth pitch.
The outing began with three strikeouts in the first inning, two finished off with the changeup, including Marcus Semien to start the game.
He ran into some trouble in the second and third innings but escaped two jams and retired eight of his next nine hitters.
Texas designated hitter Mitch Garver brought home the only run off Gallen by golfing a knuckle curveball into the first row of the seats in left during the sixth inning. It was the All-Star’s first home run allowed in four games.
Garver’s slam was the only curveball of Gallen’s Texas put in play with five whiffs on seven swings at it. Similarly with the changeup, only two were hit fairly out of nine swings.
“Everything felt really sharp,” Gallen said. “The curveball and changeup for the most part, I’d say 90% of the time had some really good angle to them. Fastball about 75% of time I was able to create some really good leverage. It goes into me starting to feel like myself again.”
Zac Gallen's 3Ks in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/dANsendhrs
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 23, 2023
The bulk of Gallen’s run support stemmed for two innings in which Arizona had the bases loaded.
Jace Peterson grounded into a double play to bring in the game’s first run in the second inning, and Gabriel Moreno singled in another. Moreno was jammed on an up-and-in heater by Rangers pitcher Jon Gray but punched it the other way.
Geraldo Perdomo walked, and Corbin Carroll hit a dribbler down the first-base line that Gray tossed over his first baseman’s head. Moreno scored to make it 3-0.
The Diamondbacks picked up four hits in a row in the fifth inning to extend the lead, started by Perdomo and bookended by Tommy Pham.
Pham’s flare into the Bermuda Triangle in left field extended his hitting streak to 13 games, tied for MLB’s longest active with Miami Marlins infielder Jake Burger. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a sacrifice fly, and the score was 5-0.
Carroll brought in the sixth run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning after Moreno doubled and Perdomo bunted him to third with one out.
Gallen did not come out for the seventh, and his ended at 90 pitches. Manager Torey Lovullo said Wednesday’s off day to reset the bullpen played a factor in pulling Gallen when he felt the starter had 7-10 pitches left in him.
From there, it was up to Arizona’s bullpen, which bent but avoided a disastrous break despite Texas getting the tying run up twice.
The Rangers left runners on base in each of the final three innings, including the bases loaded in the ninth against D-backs closer Paul Sewald down by three runs.
Semien laced what Sewald thought would be a certain triple to right-center field, but center field Alek Thomas tracked down the 389-foot shot, diving on the warning track to come up with one of the highlight defensive plays this season.
“I definitely had a good beat on it, put my head down and just ran where I thought it was gonna be,” Thomas said. “I don’t know (if that was my best catch). I’d have to look back and see. Maybe my high school days. But yeah, that was up there.”
Alek Thomas really just did that. 😯 pic.twitter.com/6jWfqqQKfw
— MLB (@MLB) August 23, 2023
Sewald added, “I appreciate it. That was very nice. … Thank you, AT.”
Sewald walked Corey Seager and allowed back-to-back singles, bringing up Garver as the go-ahead run. The veteran closer struck him out on a sweeper below the zone and ended the game with a bounce out to Perdomo at third base.
“Good series win, and the little things started popping up again today and they have been over the past probably seven to 10 games,” Lovullo said.
The D-backs get Wednesday off before facing the Cincinnati Reds for four games starting Thursday.
The Reds have a doubleheader on Wednesday caused by a Monday rainout.
Arizona was swept by Cincinnati at Great American Ballpark last month. Its rotation will be Merrill Kelly, Brandon Pfaadt, Zach Davies and Slade Cecconi, according to Lovullo.
First pitch on Thursday is at 6:40 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.