July 7, 2022

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Gallen stymies Dodgers, lives up to reputation

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PHOENIX — When he let his former co-workers with the Astros know that he was leaving to become the Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitching coach, they had one thing to say to Brent Strom.

“They kept telling me if this guy doesn’t win a Cy Young Award under you, then you should be fired,” Strom said.

“This guy” is D-backs right-hander Zac Gallen, who was impressive once again Wednesday afternoon in beating the Dodgers 3-1 at Chase Field. Gallen allowed two hits over six scoreless innings. After three starts this season, his ERA is 0.60.

Entering last season, some saw Gallen as a dark-horse candidate for Cy Young. But three different stints on the injured list kept him from ever finding a rhythm. He wound up 4-10 with a 4.30 ERA in 23 starts.

But in the two seasons before that, Gallen had certainly made an impression on Strom and his Houston co-workers.

“They feel he’s that good and so do I,” Strom said about Gallen being a Cy Young candidate. “When I saw him pitch against us a number of years back in Houston, I mean, the hitters were coming back [to the dugout] raving about this guy. So I knew a lot about Gallen.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has seen enough of Gallen to make his own determination. In eight career starts against Los Angeles, Gallen has a 2.51 ERA.

“It was a heavy fastball,” Roberts said of Gallen’s stuff. “It was glove-side fastball. He’s a tough competitor. He’s a good pitcher, he’s one of the good ones. He just got ahead all day and we couldn’t put anything together.”

Gallen experienced some bursitis in his shoulder in December, which led the D-backs to bring him along slowly in the spring. Still, he managed to open the year on the active roster, and he has not shown any ill effects so far.

“Everything felt pretty good for the most part,” Gallen said. “Just had pretty decent fastball command and kind of stuck with that, trying to stay on the attack mode.”

A Dodgers lineup that began with Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner and Max Muncy went 2-for-20 against Gallen.

“He’s had three good starts for us already and been unbelievable,” veteran shortstop Nick Ahmed said. “Fastball is electric, as you guys can see. He’s mixing it up really well and getting that cutter inside to lefties. It’s a really good lineup he shut down today.”

With the win, the D-backs took two of three from the Dodgers, who have dominated the D-backs the past couple of seasons.

The D-backs were 3-16 against the Dodgers in 2021 and 2-8 against them in 2020. The last time they won a series from them was in 2019, when they took three of four in late August.

“They’ve been clobbering us,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “And I don’t know what the record is, but ain’t very good. It’s nice to win two out of three.”

After dropping two of three to the Mets and losing the first game of the series with the Dodgers, the D-backs managed to salvage the road trip. They rallied to win Tuesday night after falling behind in the first inning, then managed to pull out another victory Wednesday.

“You know, to come back and win that one yesterday and then get one today, it’s a huge series win for us,” Ahmed said.

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