It turns out that the irresistible force of Zac Gallen could not beat the immovable object which is the blasted hell-scape of Coors Field. The fourth inning on Sunday marked the end of Gallen’s scoreless streak, terminating at a franchise record of 44.1 innings. It’s the seventh longest in major-league history, and the longest since future Diamondback Zack Greinke reached 45.2 innings in 2015. In honor of the new Diamondbacks record, let’s take a look back at each of the seven games which combined for the historic run.
August 8, vs. Pirates: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO
Gallen held Pittsburgh to three hits, all of them singles, over seven innings to get the streak under way. The Pirates only had one at-bat with a runner in scoring position, and that came to Zac’s final hitter of the game, with two outs in the seventh. He got a ground-out to end the threat, and the Diamondbacks held on to win 3-0. Everything in his arsenal was working for Gallen: “I’d say that was one of the few times this year I had them all working, all kind of repeatable and able to make the adjustments when I need to. It just kind of makes the strike zone that much bigger.”
August 13, @ Rockies: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
Only about one in ten 2022 starters has managed to pitch in Coors without allowing a run, but that included Zac here . Indeed, he did not allow a man past first the entire night, facing just two batters over the minimum. Zac needed only 89 pitches to get through his seven innings, and Arizona led from the second batter in, winning 6-0. Torey Lovullo was at Nicole Hazen’s celebration of life, but acting manager Jeff Bannister said of Gallen, “His changeup played big tonight. He was able to move the fastball in and out, keep hitters off-balance both east and west. … As [the Rockies] were sitting soft, he was able to put some guys away with the fastball. He had enough high fastballs to allow that breaking ball to play.”
August 18 @ Giants: 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 SO
This was uncharted territory for Zac, as he recorded an eighth inning out for the first time in his career, and has a career-high 12 Ks. Gallen took a perfect game into the seventh inning, before Joc Pederson broke it up with a two-out single. The inning ended when Brandon Belt tried to bunt with two strikes, such was Gallen’s dominance. The lead-off batter in the eighth reached second on an error, but Gallen and Noe Ramirez combined to strand them there and keep the streak alive. After the game, won 5-0 by the D-backs, Zac said, “I just feel like I was ahead early and then I felt like I was just able to put them away in one or two pitches, pretty much limit the pitch count.”
August 24 @ Royals: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO
Gallen wasn’t able to get the W here, as a five-run seventh off the Arizona bullpen sent the D-backs to a 5-3 loss. The streak also came within a hair of ending, M.J. Melendez being thrown out at home by a very narrow margin to end the third inning. However, Zac regrouped, working through more traffic than was customary for him, to leave the game with a 1-0 lead, before the D-backs’ relievers... It seems this is when Gallen noticed: “I just felt like I was trying to worry about (the shutout streak), It’s one of those things where if you let it get too big and control you too much it can be a problem. I felt like that in the first couple innings... I just need to do my job and not worry about it.”
August 30, vs Phillies: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
Zac came back to Chase Field for his first start there in over three weeks, and picked up his 10th win of the season. He got plenty of help from the offense, a five-run second inning getting Arizona on their way to a 12-3 victory, even this bullpen couldn’t blow. Once more, Gallen did not allow a runner past first-base, and with the aid of a pair of double-plays, saw only one hitter over the minimum, despite facing the toughest line-up of the streak to date. Zac admitted he didn’t feel at his best: “To be honest, I didn’t feel super-comfortable first, maybe second time through the line-up... The offense gave me a big enough lead I could convince myself to just be in the zone.”
September 4. vs. Brewers: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
Unsurprisingly, Gallen won the NL Pitcher of the Month award for August, having gone 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA. The calendar page turned, but Zac kept right on going, the streak reaching historic levels. Gallen - and stop me if you’ve heard this before - again did not allow a runner past first, and finished strong, retiring the last 11 Milwaukee hitters to come to the plate against him. Arizona won 5-1, though a 5-star grab from Daulton Varsho likely saved the streak, drawing praise from the pitcher: “Varsho made an unbelievable play. Honestly, I was like, ‘Oh man, there it goes, unless it bounces over the fence for a ground-rule double.’... If he’s not the best right fielder defensively in baseball, he’s definitely up there.”
August 11, @ Rockies: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 11 SO
All good things must come to an end, and such is the case with Gallen’s streak. He was perfect through the first three innings, fanning six of nine. But Zac got a bit BABIP’d in the fourth, a trio of singles scoring a run. The odd of all three becoming hits was just 8.4%, per xBA. Gallen recovered to get the win, striking out 11 over six innings, and sounded not unhappy the building pressure was finally off, after 441⁄3 scoreless innings. “I’m glad it’s over in the sense that it’s a relief. I’m not going to have to worry about trying to be so perfect out there. But at the same time, it’s one of those things that you may never get a shot at again. Ultimately, it was a good run.”
I think “a good run” is likely underselling it. This is all but certain to be another sub-.500 season for the D-backs, but underwhelming campaigns can still provide reasons to cheer. 2004 gave us Randy Johnson’s perfect game. 2021 included Tyler Gilbert’s no-hitter. And this season will always be remembered for Zac Gallen’s remarkable run of shutout baseball, which not only warmed our hearts, it gave Arizona’s fans justifiable reason to look forward to more from him in the future.