After a pair of wins in Mexico City which tested essentially every facet of the team’s make-up, the Diamondbacks headed to Atlanta for three against the Braves. Zac Gallen took the mound for Arizona against the Braves and Kykle Wright. The Diamondbacks wasted no time in setting the tone for game one, jumping out to an early lead before having the dynamic, young Gallen take the mound.
Starling Marte started off the game with a blood single to left that dropped in just barely out of the reach of Adeiny Hechavarria. David Peralta then lined a double into the gap between left and center. Playing cautious, Marte held up at third. That brought up Ketel Marte. He ran the count full before banging a line drive into the left field corner for a double, scoring S. Marte and Peralta. Eduardo Escobar then singled to left center field. K. Marte decided to play things aggressively and tried for home. He slid in safely, just under the throw home by Christian Pache. Christian Walker then singled, putting runners on first and second for Kole Calhoun. Calhoun flew out to left field. Carson Kelly followed that by hitting the first pitch he saw right to Ozzie Albies for an easy 5-4-3 double play to end the top of the first.
Gifted with a three-run lead, Gallen took the mound and went straight at Atlanta’s hitters. Gallen got Albies to pop up weakly to Escobar at third, which brought Jonathan Camargo to the plate. Camargo took a healthy swing at the first pitch he saw and lined it to center field where Starling Marte made a great diving catch. However, immediately after the catch, Marte waved to the dugout, bringing out Arizona’s trainers. Not 30 seconds later, Tim Locastro was trotting out into center while Marte was walking back to the dugout with his arm held close to his body..
Gallen then enticed a weak pop fly out of Freddie Freeman to Ketel Marte at second base to end the inning; putting the Braves on notice for what sort of day they were in for.
Nick Ahmed led off the second with a double. That led to Virtual Brian Snitker starting activity in the bullpen. Zac Gallen then came to the plate and put down a fine bunt. However, the Braves had the wheel play on and executed it flawlessly, getting Ahmed out at third. Gallen moved up on a grounder to third by Locastro, but was then stranded there when David Peralta flew out to the warning track in center field.
The third and fourth innings went by quickly. Wright settled in, allowing the Atlanta bullpen to cool down again. Gallen scattered two hits and a walk while inducing all sorts of weak contact out of Atlanta hitters.
The fifth inning began with Locastro and Peralta both drawing full count walks. This brought Ketel Marte to the plate. Marte also ran the count full, then watched as Wright dropped a wicked curveball into the zone that was good for a called strike three. Eduardo Escobar then hit a high chopper that flattened out on Camargo, causing the Braves’ third baseman to misplay the ball, resulting in the bases being loaded with only one out. Christian Walker then lined a ball into the gap in left center that hit the wall. When the ball died on the track, the Arizona base runners were off to the races. Walker never slowed as he took the turns and slid safely into third with a triple. That brought an end to Wright’s evening. Shane Greene was called upon to restore order for the Braves. He started by hitting Calhoun with the first pitch he threw. The next pitch he threw was pounded into center by Kelly, by Pache made a great play on the ball coming in on the play, which held Walker at third. Nick Ahmed then drew a walk, which, once again, loaded the bases. Gallen was left in to hit for himself. He lifted a 1-2 pitch into right field for an easy out to end the Arizona fifth.
Gallen continued to pitch aggressively when he took the mound in the fifth. The Braves though, changed things up and started attacking Gallen early. Pache hit the first pitch he saw for a single. That brought up Greene, who dropped the first pitch he saw for a beautiful bunt, moving Pache up to second. Albies then took the second pitch he saw and lined a triple, scoring Pache. A groundout to the right side then scored Albies. Seven pitches into the inning, the Braves had already taken back two of the three runs they had given up in the top of the inning. Freddie Freeman lined a double to left center, bringing Ronald Acuña Jr. to the plate. Acuña looked at three straight pitches in the zone, ending the inning.
From that point on, the game was very uneventful. Peralta and Kelly both had doubles that amounted to nothing, while Gallen continued to go straight at Atlanta’s hitters, earning the chance to take the mound for the eighth inning. With one out, Acuña singled. That was enough for Virtual Lovullo to decide that Gallen’s evening was over. He made the call to the bullpen that brought in Kevin Ginkel to finish off the frame. Ginkel made quick work of the Braves then did so again in the ninth inning.
Final Score: AZ 6 - ATL 2
The player of the game was Zac Gallen. The honor could have gone to Christian Walker for his work at the plate, especially the three-run triple he clobbered. However, it was the way Gallen made the 7 1⁄3 innings he pitched look easy that was truly the difference maker in the game. Even when Atlanta was finding some success through playing aggressively, Gallen was till recording outs and not letting the pressure get to him.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow. Luke Weaver (0-3, 2.73) will take on Mike Soroka (3-2, 3.38).