Gallen done in by 6th-inning mistake in loss to Braves

July 10th, 2024

PHOENIX -- ’s pitch count was sitting at 102 Tuesday night with runners at first and third in the sixth with Braves slugger Adam Duvall coming to the plate.

In the dugout, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo had a decision to make. Thyago Vieira was ready in the bullpen and Lovullo knew that the max amount of pitches Gallen would throw was somewhere in the 105-107 range.

Lovullo chose to ride his ace.

“I just felt like he could get that second out somehow, some way,” Lovullo said. “I did [think about taking him out] but it’s Zac and I felt like he threw the ball really well. He was two outs away from a quality start and he had got things really under control outside of that second inning.”

Gallen, too, knew that this was probably going to be his last batter and he thought he could get Duvall to ground into an inning-ending double play. He jumped ahead of Duvall, 0-2, on a curveball and a slider.

Gallen then tried to come back with another curveball, but Duvall was ready for it and jumped on the pitch at the bottom of the strike zone, launching it into the left-field bleachers.

"He threw me a lot of curveballs tonight,” Duvall said. “I don't know how many, but he led me off with a curveball in each of my at-bats. His intent was probably to bury that a little more. I don't know if it was in the bottom of the zone. But, I saw it well that time and was able to put a good swing on it."

That gave the Braves a five-run lead en route to a 6-2 win to capture the first two games of the series at Chase Field.

The Braves finally got to Gallen in the sixth, but it was the second inning that really set the stage for things.

It was in that frame that the Braves made Gallen really work. He threw 36 pitches in the inning, which was extended when second baseman Ketel Marte was unable to catch a line drive hit to him off the bat of Orlando Arcia, resulting in an error.

The Braves had scored just one run at the time of the mishap and that would have been the third out of the inning. Instead, Atlanta scored a pair of runs and Gallen had to throw another 13 pitches to get out of it.

“The second inning was just unfortunate, really,” Gallen said. “But that happens, so I was just trying to be efficient and I was in the third, fourth and fifth innings.”

Gallen felt like his best pitch on the night was his curveball, and that the Braves were having trouble picking it up, but he might have gone to it too many times in the sixth.

Prior to the Duvall homer, Gallen threw five straight curveballs to Marcell Ozuna, who connected with the final one for a single. Then he went curve, slider, curve to Duvall with the last offering landing in the seats.

“I was just trying to get a double play ball,” Gallen said. “I think if that pitch is down a little more I get him to roll over it but maybe I just went to the same sequence too much and he was looking for that pitch. I knew the pitch count was getting up there so I knew it was close to the end for me so I was just trying to get out of it with a double play.”

The loss was the second in a row for the D-backs after a six-game road trip in which they took two of three games from both the Dodgers and Padres.

It was a great road trip for them against two teams they’re chasing in the NL West standings, but several of those games were tight, emotional contests. Lovullo felt like those games, in addition to their heartbreaking loss to the Braves in 11 innings after they were one out away from winning in the ninth, took a lot out of his club.

Batting practice was canceled Tuesday as a result, but that didn’t seem to help.

“I just think we emotionally were a little bit gassed so I want to get them off the field today,” Lovullo said. “I think we punched a real emotional ticket for two straight series.”