Zac Gallen ‘came out fighting’ to give Diamondbacks a chance at World Series glory
Nov 2, 2023, 12:08 AM | Updated: 7:44 am
PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen was more than halfway to a perfect game with his team battling to stay alive in the 2023 World Series against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Gallen started 14 up, 14 down and stacking up quick outs on the biggest stage of his professional career.
The D-backs trailed the Rangers 3-1 in the Fall Classic entering Game 5, and while the Rangers broke away late to capture their first championship, Gallen gave his club every opportunity to keep the series going .
“He came out fighting,” manager Torey Lovullo said after a 5-0 loss that gave Texas the championship. “I feel like had we scored some early runs it would have been a different outcome. But we didn’t. … But at the end of the day, when I walked in this ballpark today, I knew that Zac was going to be our starting pitcher, and I felt really good about it. I know what’s inside of him. I know where his heart is. And he didn’t let us down.”
Gallen’s perfect bid ended with a walk to Nathaniel Lowe in the fifth inning, while the first Rangers hit was a Corey Seager dribbler into left field with the infield shifted over in the seventh.
Texas tagged Gallen with a run, but his book closed with 6.1 innings and one run on three hits. Kevin Ginkel relieved him, as the starter successfully bridged to the back end of the bullpen.
Gallen received a rousing ovation from the sold-out Chase Field crowd as he walked off the mound for the final time in 2023.
The Diamondbacks fumbled with ducks on the pond in Game 5, finishing 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. That proved to be the difference in the game as Texas was 3-for-10 and scored four runs in the ninth inning to break the game open.
Gallen said postgame he would have rather allowed 1,000 earned runs with a D-backs win.
“At this stage, you don’t care about the personal accolades or personal accomplishments, you just want to do what you can to give the team a chance to win, give the city something to be proud of,” Gallen said. “I mean, just like I’ve been saying all year, I just tried to give us a chance to win. Our backs were against the wall. Just tip your hats, it’s a good team over there. It’s tough.”
“He answered the bell, he came out fighting…”
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) November 2, 2023
Gallen continued to prove his ace status in MLB this year, setting career highs in starts (34), innings (210), fWAR (5.2) and strikeouts (220).
His first career complete-game shutout against the Chicago Cubs was a signature moment, helping the D-backs climb back into playoff positioning. He made his first All-Star Game, starting for the NL, and finished with a 3.47 ERA.
But he had not produced No. 1 starter results this postseason entering Wednesday, as the D-backs dropped his last three outings, in each of which he allowed two runs in the first inning.
But Game 5 was much different from the get-go, as Gallen struck out Rangers rookie Evan Carter to end a 1-2-3 first frame. He got through the next two innings with seven pitches each.
Texas made five first-pitch outs between the second and fourth innings, as Gallen took advantage of an aggressive offense by largely hitting the edges. He had a 43% chase rate, as well.
— MLB (@MLB) November 2, 2023
“Gallen today was tremendous,” catcher Gabriel Moreno said via a Spanish translator. “Just happy with his work, his location today was nasty.”
“Just proud of him, he’s one of our anchors,” first baseman Christian Walker said.
Gallen felt the elimination would motivate his squad going into the clubhouse, saying he hopes the feeling of Wednesday’s loss sticks for a while to “prevent that from happening again.”
But the All-Star was also proud of Arizona’s accomplishment, getting to the World Series as underdogs overlooked by those outside the clubhouse.
“I hope the city of Phoenix, I hope the state are proud of us and enjoyed this journey we were on because this was special,” Gallen said. “Hopefully next time around, we’re ending with champagne on the last day of the year.”
Gallen said he’s excited for the offseason to continue getting better. Gallen is 28 years old and has two more arbitration-eligible seasons.