Zac attack! D-backs' ace outduels Alcantara

Rookie Carroll backs Gallen with double, home run off Marlins' Cy Young winner

April 16th, 2023

MIAMI -- Going up against an ace and reigning National League Cy Young Award winner like Sandy Alcantara, there’s only one thing to do: be aggressive. 

That was the game plan for the D-backs as they took the field at loanDepot park on Sunday against Alcantara and the Marlins. The plan was successful, as an aggressive approach on both sides of the ball propelled Arizona to a 5-0 win in the series finale.

“[Sandy’s] a guy you don't want to let get ahead of you,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “And he's gonna make it very difficult. A lot of weapons -- there's three or four weapons, it doesn't matter if you’re a left-handed hitter or right-handed hitter, but if you're 0-1 then you're in a deep hole with him.”

A strong offense, led by 2-for-4 nights from each of the No. 3-5 hitters, paved the way for , who has history with the Marlins and Alcantara.

The pair of aces came over as top prospects from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade in December 2017. As Gallen acknowledged, they’ve known each other since they were 21 years old and getting started in the Minors.

Gallen made his Major League debut with Miami on June 20, 2019, and he got seven starts before he was dealt at the Trade Deadline for fellow top prospect Jazz Chisholm Jr.

“I love competing against Sandy,” Gallen said. “I just love seeing him do well, so just competing against him was a lot of fun. I knew I would have to bring my ‘A’ game today. … To Sandy's credit, [he’s a] guy that you need him to make a mistake most of the time, [and] when he makes a mistake you gotta capitalize on it. 

“We did a good job today. … Kind of put the pressure on him, you know, [the offense was] able to break through and kind of give me a little bit of breathing room to go out there and attack a little bit more.”

Gallen attacked all right, showing off his command and keeping Miami off the bases with four perfect frames before allowing a hit in the fifth. Over his 6 2/3 scoreless innings, Gallen allowed just two hits and one hit batter while striking out seven in his second straight quality start, a sign the vintage ace is back in a big way.

The game marked the first time in his career that Gallen has thrown four perfect innings in a start. He was in a groove from the start -- striking out Chisholm and Garrett Cooper to open the game -- and he kept cruising.

“I knew I was on a roll,” Gallen said. “Everything was kind of coming out pretty good, I felt like I had good command of everything for the most part -- probably the best command out of the changeup since I can remember.”

It helped that Gallen had an early lead to work with. doubled on the second pitch of the second inning, then came home three batters later on Alek Thomas’ single.

The knock, which Carroll lined straight at left fielder Bryan De La Cruz with a 107.5 mph exit velocity, came at the outfielder so fast that he seemed to lose it in the lights, and he got his glove up just in time to avoid taking the ball to his face. 

Carroll finished off the D-backs’ four-run sixth inning that ensured Alcantara would not be back to work the seventh, yanking his fourth homer of the year -- a two-run blast -- an impressive Statcast-projected 414 feet to center field. Chisholm, who had leapt onto the wall to try to rob the homer, could do nothing but watch the ball sail over his head as he clung to the wall.

“It's been the result of a lot of hard work,” Lovullo said. “[Carroll’s] right in the middle of it. He hits the ball off the left fielder’s shoulder and then hits the ball off the center-field backdrop. 

“That's against one of the best pitchers in baseball, [and Carroll’s] unfazed. He's got a great heartbeat. He's got a great plan and translated [it].”

“It felt good,” Carroll said. “Obviously he's a very good pitcher. He’s got great stuff and he knows how to pitch. So to be able to get a win off a guy like that is huge.”