D-backs can't solve Dodgers' puzzle on Opening Day

March 31st, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- It’s a new season and a chance for fresh starts, and the D-backs have a youthful roster filled with optimism for the future.

But an old nemesis proved once again to bedevil the D-backs as they dropped their opener, 8-2, to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on a chilly Thursday night.

Dodger Stadium has been a house of horrors for the D-backs. Since the start of the 2020 season, the D-backs are 3-20 in Chavez Ravine and not even having their ace, , on the mound could change that.

Of course, the fact that the Dodgers won the World Series in 2020 and won 106 and 111 games the next two years are a big reason why every team has struggled here, but none more so than the D-backs.

“Tough team, tough environment,” D-backs first baseman Christian Walker said. “I don't know, I feel like you got options, right, you could look at it like, ‘Oh man, we got the Dodgers at [Dodger Stadium].’ Or you could choose to look at it like ‘We’ve got to bring the energy, we haven’t found the recipe to dominate here.’ It’s an unsolved puzzle at this point.”

It seemed promising early for the D-backs as they scored runs in each of the first two innings to grab the lead behind Gallen, who finished fifth in the Cy Young voting last year and figures to be in contention for it again.

Thursday, though, it was a mixed bag of a start for Gallen.

He struck out seven and got ahead of hitters, but he also walked three and struggled at times to put guys away with two strikes. Three hits with two strikes led to four runs.

“I still punched out seven so I was still putting guys away, but maybe just didn’t execute great in those situations,” Gallen said. “But at the same time, I mean, it's my same sentiment -- those guys drive nice cars, too. They get paid to put good swings on it. So in that sense, I’ve just got to make a better pitch. It’s a conundrum, you’re putting guys away, but at the same time, in the big spots I didn’t put guys away when I needed to.”

In the fifth, Gallen seemed to run out of gas a bit, and D-backs manager Torey Lovullo lifted him with two outs and two on at the 89-pitch mark.

“A good start, a little bit of a shaky end,” Lovullo said of Gallen’s outing. “I thought he had some really good stuff early in the game, and then there were just some miscues in advantage counts where I felt like he had good enough stuff to put hitters away, but he was unable to do that.”

Gallen didn’t get a ton of offensive support either.

After collecting three hits in the first two innings against Julio Urías, the D-backs collected just one more hit the rest of the way -- a single to right by Ketel Marte, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

“It just looked like at times we were not in a good position to strike the baseball,” Lovullo said. “The first two innings were great with three hits and we scored a couple runs and then it stalled out. So we’ve just got to get back to our fundamentals and things we're good at. Our guys when they're up there at the plate and following their process, they’re good hitters.”

The D-backs look to turn things around at Dodger Stadium on Friday night with Merrill Kelly on the mound.

“We don't feel defeated by this place,” Walker said. “I mean, they're a good team; you’ve got to give them credit. We're a good team, too. I don’t know what the right answer is or why it’s been that way, but you know there’s always tomorrow.”