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Gallegos shows his reliability in crucial win

@anne__rogers
July 21, 2019

CINCINNATI -- With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning, Giovanny Gallegos jogged in from the bullpen to face the Reds’ middle of the lineup and protect the Cardinals’ two-run lead. He threw 12 pitches to Josh VanMeter and Scooter Gennett, and got both of them to

CINCINNATI -- With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning, Giovanny Gallegos jogged in from the bullpen to face the Reds’ middle of the lineup and protect the Cardinals’ two-run lead.

He threw 12 pitches to Josh VanMeter and Scooter Gennett, and got both of them to swing at an 86-mph slider.

As three Reds players ran to the dugout, the Cardinals reliever walked off the mound, pounded his fist into his glove twice and let out a breath of relief.

Stranding those runners was key in the Cardinals’ 3-1 win Sunday and taking three of four from the Reds. St. Louis (51-47) has won seven games in the 10 out of the All-Star break.

Box score

It was an important series, not only for the record, but also to put a gap between the top and bottom of the National League Central -- which at one point before the All-Star break was separated by 4 1/2 games. Heading into another four-game series against the Pirates, St. Louis is neck-and-neck with the Brewers.

The 1 2/3 innings from Gallegos in which he struck out four of the five batters he faced was another example of the right-hander’s versatility, his ability to “pitch anywhere, anytime, in any part of the lineup,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.

“He just pitches,” Shildt said. “He’s got great stuff, he doesn’t make the situation bigger than it is, he just pitches. Situation is a situation. He does a good job of preparing, knowing what they’re trying to do. It’s about executing pitches.”

Gallegos was called up in April and got to pitch in his home country in the Mexico series, when the Cardinals also played the Reds. Since then, he’s been a steady reliever who has earned higher-leverage opportunities with each solid outing.

It’s Gallegos’ slider that has emerged as his most effective pitch, and he used it to get VanMeter and Gennett to swing in the fifth. Shildt said the Cardinals didn’t see that pitch much in Spring Training, partly because they didn’t give Gallegos a lengthy look. So he began the season in Triple-A, but he’s pitched his way into staying with the club.

“[I can] control being ready, working hard every time,” Gallegos said. “When I was called up to the big leagues -- I know what is my job. I don’t think too much [except] getting out the hitter, help the team win the games.”

Sunday was also another example of the Cardinals bullpen shutting down offenses and either keeping the Cardinals in the lead or keeping them within striking distance. Aside from Phillip Ervin’s home run off of Andrew Miller in the eighth, the bullpen was as effective as it's been throughout the whole season. Four relievers held the Reds to just one hit -- that solo homer -- in 4 2/3 innings Sunday.

Cardinal relievers have held their opposition to a league best .212 average this season. They’ve inherited 154 runners and allowed just 24 of them to score, and Gallegos leads the relievers in that category. He’s stranded 26 of the 29 runners he’s inherited -- third best in the National League.

“I have to control every situation,” Gallegos said. “Try to focus and throw strikes. Make my pitch every time. Be ready for any situation.”

Gallegos is ready for any situation he’s put in, but he’s emerged into a reliever who can get the Cardinals out of an inning in high-leverage spots. He ranks second in the National League with a 7.88 strikeout to walk ratio.

“Gio did what Gio does, he punched two guys out,” Flaherty, who struck out seven in his start, said. “That’s what he does, picks it up after the [guy before]. It was fun to watch him put those two guys away.”

Even though the Cardinals have three lefties in their bullpen, Shildt still went with Gallegos to get out the left-handed hitters in VanMeter and Gennett. He said it was because it wasn’t yet Miller’s spot, and Gallegos has proved he can get anybody out.

“It’s about getting outs,” Shildt said. “He’s a low walk, high strikeout guy, so you can trust him with runners on base and it was a good spot for him. He was huge for us today.”

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.