Not particularly close in the end, with Zac Gallen’s 13 strikeout performance notching a clear majority of the votes, even after having to tidy up a couple of duplicate entries. It’s the second win for Gallen, who had previously taken this title in 2020, with a not entirely different performance, also coming against the Dodgers on a September night in Los Angeles. Here’s how the two starts stack up for Gallen:
- 9/2/20: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, 97 pitches, 80 GS
- 9/22/22: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB. 13 SO, 98 pitches, 87 GS
I’d say this year’s model was likely superior, reflecting both the steps forward Gallen has taken as a pitcher over the past two years, and the rather limited pool of performances from which we could draw, in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign.
By this point in the season, it was admittedly a meaningless game as far as the Diamondbacks were concerned. They came into the contest a mere 331⁄2 back of the Dodgers, with just a dozen game left to play, and a losing record all but sealed. However, Los Angeles had continued to have the evil eye over Arizona as the two teams entered the last match-up of the season. The D-backs had won only five of eighteen games against the Dodgers, measuring up poorly against the team with the best record in the National League. But on this night, Gallen made a statement that might mean more for the future of these games, than for the present.
Gallen started off by retiring the first eleven batters he faced, six of them by the swinging strikeout. That included a stretch of five consecutive K’s, where Zac threw just 23 pitches. Seven were balls, and of the sixteen strikes, seven were swinging strikes and four called strikes, the Dodgers able to make contact and foul off only five. The perfect game was broken up with two outs in the fourth, when Will Smith tripled, then scoring on Max Muncy’s double. Those were the only two base-runners Gallen would allow all game, and it was just unfortunate sequencing that they’d lead to an earned run. Otherwise we would be looking at a Game Score of 91, not reached by a D-back since the good version of Ian Kennedy in 2011.
Although that tied the game at 1-1, Zac went back to being utterly dominant, retiring the final thirteen LA hitters to come to the plate against him. That included the final four by the K, on a total of 17 pitches. A Christian Walker home-run off Craig Kimbrel in the top of the ninth put Gallen in line for the win. But - and stop me if you’ve heard this one before - the 2022 D-backs bullpen was unable to hold the lead. Reyes Moronta loaded the bases while being able to record only one out. Joe Mantiply then gave up a game-tying RBI single to Muncy, and a walk-off single to Mookie Betts. Gallen’s 87 was the highest Game Score in a no-decision for Arizona in over 20 years, since Miguel Batista threw nine shutout IP in a game lost in ten.
What they said
- “He was just in complete control, domination. He’s fun to watch. I’m glad we don’t see him again this year.” — Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts
- “Anytime we lose, I’m not really too thrilled about it. It’s a double-edged sword in a sense. I did my job. I can be happy with that. But we didn’t win, so I’m not too pleased about it.” — Zac Gallen
- “Fastball command, ahead in counts, breaking ball whenever he needed it and he followed a great plan. 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.” — Torey Lovullo
- “I felt like I had a pretty good feel for [the curveball]. 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.” — Zac Gallen
Zac Gallen of the @Dbacks is the only MLB pitcher in the modern era to throw 8.0+ innings on the road with 12+ strikeouts, no walks, 2 or fewer hits allowed and under 100 pitches.— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) September 23, 2022
It’s now the fifth time in a row this award has gone to a pitching performance, with J.D. Martinez’s four-homer game, the last hitter to win the category.
- 2021: 8/14 - Tyler Gilbert’s no-hitter
- 2020: 9/2 - Zac Gallen one-hits the Dodgers
- 2019: 9/7 - Alex Young’s rookie record
- 2018: 4/17 - Patrick Corbin one-hits the Giants
- 2017: 9/4 - J.D Martinez, 4 HR vs. LAD
- 2016: 7/16 - Jake Lamb is clutch
- 2015: 4/17 - Josh Collmenter, complete-game shutout + three hits
- 2014: 5/29 - Josh Collmenter’s imperfect game
- 2013: 8/13 - Paul Goldschmidt, tying HR in 9th, walk-off HR in 11th, +79.8% WP
- 2012: 6/29 - Aaron Hill’s cycle #2 vs. Milwaukee
- 2011: 4/25 - Ian Kennedy complete-game
- 2010: 6/25 - Edwin Jackson, no-hitter vs. Tampa Bay
- 2009: 6/7 - B-bullpen no-hits the Padres for nine innings
- 2008: 4/18 - Conor Jackson, runs through the cycle
- 2007: 8/18 - Micah Owings, two-way threat