Gallen on a roll until mound of trouble in 7th inning

May 19th, 2024

PHOENIX -- Saturday night was shaping up to be a good one for the D-backs. Their ace, , was in complete control through six innings while the offense did just enough against Detroit’s Jack Flaherty to build a 2-0 lead.

“With a 2-0 lead and the bullpen that we had in that situation, I felt like we were going to be able to come out on top of that game,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We had a lot going in our favor.”

And then, well, they didn’t.

The Tigers put together a six-run seventh inning and stunned the D-backs, 8-3, in front of a large crowd at Chase Field.

Gallen did give up some hard contact, but held the Tigers to just four hits through the first six innings, with his biggest challenge seemingly being the pitching mound.

Flaherty, it seems, likes to dig out a little spot in front of the pitching rubber to anchor his right foot. Both pitchers have deliveries that start at the third-base side of the rubber, so after about four innings of pitching with his right foot in the hole dug by Flaherty, Gallen began to feel something in his right hamstring.

It wasn’t the same as what he felt in Seattle earlier in the month that necessitated him coming out of the game, but he wanted to be safe rather than sorry so he asked the umpires to have the grounds crew fill in the hole.

“It just felt really dug out to me,” Gallen said. “The fourth inning, my hamstring started to get a little tight on me, so it was more of an injury concern. Just like I was having trouble getting my foot how I wanted it. I just wanted to be safe.”

Each bottom half of the inning, Flaherty would take the mound and proceed to re-dig the hole and then at the top half the umpires would have the grounds crew fill it back in for Gallen.

“I thought [umpire crew chief] Larry Vanover did a great job of allowing the mound to just temporarily be rebuilt,” Lovullo said. “It was a minute and a half fix. Their starting pitcher had a particular way he wanted it, Zac wanted it a certain way for him.”

In the seventh, rebuilt mound or not, the inning got away from Gallen. After a leadoff double by Gio Urshela, Gallen struck out the next two batters before Javier Báez doubled to score Urshela and cut the lead to 2-1.

That brought catcher Carson Kelly to the plate. Kelly, who played with the D-backs from 2019 until getting designated for assignment last year, and Gallen are close friends. The pair were roommates while coming up in the Cardinals farm system and teammates again with the D-backs.

Gallen busted Kelly with a 94 mph fastball that jammed Kelly, but he was able to sneak it past second baseman Ketel Marte and into right field for the game-tying single.

That spelled the end of the night for Gallen, and the Tigers added four runs in the inning off the bullpen. What looked like it would be a nice victory turned into a bitter defeat.

“It's tough, especially the way the inning just kind of spiraled out of control for us,” Gallen said.

The television broadcast seemed to catch Flaherty and Lovullo yelling at each other across the field during the six-run seventh.

“I know you guys want me to comment on that,” Lovullo said. “I’m not going to. You saw what happened. I just thought that there were some things coming out of their side that really rubbed us the wrong way and I had enough. Trust me, what you guys saw and I’m sure everyone saw wasn’t the first thing that happened. I can hold serve on one thing, but we felt like there was more than just that situation that popped up and I'd had enough.”