Mathisen makes long-awaited MLB debut

September 8th, 2020

For eight years and 649 games toiled in the Minor Leagues, hoping for the chance he finally got Monday night at Oracle Park.

About 10:30 a.m. MST, Mathisen was going through testing protocols when D-backs bench coach Luis Urueta let him know that he was in the starting lineup against the Giants.

“And then I guess it came out on the MLB [app],” Mathisen said. “I told my wife I was starting and she was like, ‘Oh are you?’ and she sent me a screenshot of the MLB app. So, it kind of all came at once this morning.”

Mathisen was hitless in his debut, going 0-for-4 in the D-backs' 4-2 loss to the Giants, but just getting to the big leagues was an accomplishment in itself given the road he traveled since being selected in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Pirates.

“Crazy to say the least,” Mathisen said of actually seeing his name on the lineup card when he arrived at the ballpark.

Mathisen, who had committed to playing collegiately at the University of Texas before signing with the Pirates, spent the 2017 season at Double-A Altoona, where he had a .722 OPS.

It was an adjustment that he made to his swing with personal hitting coach Benny Craig following that season that would change the trajectory of his career.

Like with a lot of hitters in this age of baseball, Mathisen worked to get the ball in the air more and that translated to an .803 OPS in 2018.

Mathisen became a six-year Minor League free agent in the offseason and the D-backs were quick to sign him.

After he slashed .283/.403/.601 at Triple-A Reno in 2019, the D-backs added him to the 40-man roster, and after spending time at their alternate site and then on their taxi squad, he finally got the promotion he dreamed about.

“You’ve just got to keep grinding,” Mathisen said. “It’s hard. Playing baseball's hard. I made one subtle adjustment three years ago with my swing and it's like it's been life-changing for me. So it's never out of the picture is what I would say like to anybody who's grinding the Minor Leagues for years like I had to go through. As long as you're playing professional baseball, you always have a shot to get to the big leagues. As long as you just keep grinding and make those adjustments, I mean, you never know what can happen.”

Gallen’s streak ends

’s Major League record streak of starts to open a career with three or fewer runs allowed ended Monday night at 23, two more than Boston’s Aaron Sele, who had 21 in 1993-94.

“To keep up that streak was going to be nearly impossible,” Gallen said. “It was a pretty cool run. Maybe it was meant to be to end on No. 23.”

Gallen’s favorite number is 23, a nod to his all-time favorite athlete, Michael Jordan.

Gallen cruised through the first five innings, allowing just a single to Mike Yastrzemski to open the first, but unraveled in the sixth as he allowed a walk, single, walk, and two more singles to open the inning.

Three runs scored on those hits and he left with the bases loaded. When Junior Guerra walked the first man he faced to force in a run, that gave Gallen four earned runs for the game.