Gallen dominant with career-high 13 strikeouts

D-backs' budding ace allows just one run against potent Dodgers lineup

September 23rd, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- The D-backs know that in order to get to where they want to go -- a National League West division championship -- they’ve got to find a way to beat the Dodgers, the team that currently holds that title.

In , they’ve got a guy who’s shown he’s up to the task.

The D-backs’ budding ace turned in one of his best starts of the year in Thursday’s series finale, striking out a career-high 13 while holding the Dodgers to one run on two hits in eight innings of Arizona’s 3-2 loss. It was Gallen’s longest career start.

“Fastball command, ahead in counts, breaking ball whenever he needed it and he followed a great plan,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “If you have the plan in front of you the way we do, it’s scripted, he followed the script and executed at a very high level.”

Not many pitchers have been able to quiet the 104-win Dodgers, but Gallen has now done so twice this season, having thrown six scoreless innings against them on April 27. Then again, there haven’t been too many teams who have gotten to Gallen, who’s in the midst of a career year -- one that featured a 44 1/3-inning scoreless streak that ran from Aug. 8-Sept.12, good for the seventh-longest such run in AL/NL history.

Thursday’s outing saw Gallen outduel the National League ERA leader -- Julio Urías, who allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings -- while lowering his own ERA to 2.46, good for third best among qualified NL starters (behind Urías’ 2.25 and Sandy Alcantara’s 2.37).

“He just was in complete control and [dominated] tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “… We just didn’t have an answer for him.”

Indeed, Gallen was as dominant and deceptive as he’s been all season, with a whopping 77 of his 98 pitches going for strikes. His called strike plus whiff rate of 42.8 percent was a career high, while his 18 whiffs tied for his second most on the season.

Of the 26 batters Gallen faced, he threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of them. He also threw his curveball 38.7 percent of the time, well up from his season average of 20.9 percent.

“I felt like I had a pretty good feel for [the curveball],” Gallen said. “It felt OK coming into the game -- it didn't feel anything, whether it was bad or good. And then I got out there and it just started to click.”

Gallen retired the first 11 batters he faced before Will Smith hit a fly ball to left field that Stone Garrett was unable to glove. Smith was credited with a triple, then scored on a Max Muncy double.

Those were the only baserunners Gallen allowed all game, as he proceeded to retire his final 13 batters. Things came to a crescendo in the bottom of the eighth when Gallen, his pitch count up to 84, went back out for one more inning. Looking as sharp as he had all game, Gallen struck out the Dodgers’ 6-8 batters, Joey Gallo, Gavin Lux and Trayce Thompson, all swinging.

“It's a tough lineup,” Gallen said of the Dodgers. “Obviously, it's good to do well. I’ve been putting in a lot of work, trying to work hard at my craft and whatnot. But I mean, this is a tough one, and we wanted to win that game, ultimately. That’s kind of what it comes down to for me.”

Although the D-backs temporarily took the lead in the top of the ninth on a Christian Walker solo shot, the Dodgers got to Reyes Moronta and Joe Manitply in the bottom of the frame, denying the D-backs their first series win at Dodger Stadium since April 13-15, 2018. The D-backs finished their season series with the Dodgers 5-14.

“I’m proud of the way we keep progressing, but we still have a long way to go,” said Lovullo. “You come into this venue and we feel like we let a couple games get away. It’s obvious what happened and where it happened to us. We’ve got to tighten that up.

“I’m encouraged. I really am encouraged. I don’t want any of these players to be complacent. We’ve got to keep working.”