D-backs’ Zac Gallen rewarded Torey Lovullo’s trust in shutout vs. Cubs
Sep 9, 2023, 10:11 AM
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told ace pitcher Zac Gallen he had three hitters left — two if things got “squirrely” — in the ninth inning of Friday’s 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Gallen was three outs away from his first MLB nine-inning complete-game shutout at 94 pitches in a dominant start against one of the best offenses in baseball.
“I think I went into the eighth at 80-something pitches, so my thought was, ‘I’m just gonna empty the tank for the eighth and hand the ball over to Paul (Sewald),'” Gallen told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna stay in attack mode, see if I can finish this thing.'”
Chicago’s first batter, catcher Yan Gomes, popped up on the third pitch, a good start. But Mike Tauchman battled for an eight-pitch walk that gave Lovullo a decision to make.
Gallen looked into the dugout to see if there was any movement to go get him, but Lovullo stayed put.
“It would have been more of a shock, I think, if he would have made his way out to the mound,” Gallen said. “I feel good. My stuff is coming out of my hand pretty good here in the ninth inning. So give me a shot and see if I can shut this thing down.”
Nico Hoerner attacked the first pitch of the following at-bat and flied out to shallow right field. Ian Happ also swung at the first pitch and hit a ground ball to shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, who beat Tauchman to second base to secure the win.
Gallen said Lovullo understood his “vibe” that he was feeling good and wanted to finish. He said he was primed for it based on conversations the two have had about needing Gallen to go the distance at some point.
Gallen earned the first D-backs nine-inning complete game since Tyler Gilbert’s no-hitter in 2021 and became the fourth pitcher in team history to throw nine scoreless innings with three or fewer hits, one or fewer walks and nine or more strikeouts. The other three are Ian Kennedy, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. He is one of 18 pitchers with a complete-game shutout this year.
Zac Gallen, Shutout. 🍾 pic.twitter.com/iJPpgOrvoO
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 8, 2023
The ace said it meant more given recent missteps, having allowed 11 earned runs over his previous two outings against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.
“I think for me, it means more just because I hadn’t pitched really great the last couple of times out, didn’t get us off on a good foot in L.A. and then struggled to close the series out against the Orioles,” Gallen said. “So for me, I think it was more of just stepping up and doing my job, something I hadn’t done the last couple times out.”
Zac Gallen gets his first career complete game shutout! Listen to the final out. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/YjXt7DICEz
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) September 8, 2023
The performance kept the D-backs in the third National League Wild Card spot for the day with the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds breathing down their neck.
It also cut the Cubs’ lead in the second wild card spot to two games over Arizona.
The D-backs can use another gem Saturday with Merrill Kelly coming off seven one-run innings against the Colorado Rockies. Kelly matches up with Cubs ace Justin Steele, who is firmly in the Cy Young race with a 2.55 ERA.
First pitch is at 11:20 a.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.