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Diamondbacks 1, Cubs 0: A Gallen of praise

Zac Gallen threw the first complete-game shutout of the year for the D-backs, in a real squeaker.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Well, folks, today’s game was a really, really nice happy Friday gift for all of us. The only thing that sucks about it for me is that I didn’t get to watch a single pitch of this game live, because the gods of Wrigley in their infinite wisdom decided to schedule this Friday game for an 11:20am start, local time.

So when first pitch did roll around, I was just in the process of herding the day’s second crop of ninth graders out of my classroom. By the time I’d fired up the MLB Game Day thang, it was already the second inning, with zeroes across the box score for both teams, except for an error that had been charged to Chicago’s catcher in the top of the first.

Here’s what I’ve been able to reconstruct of what transpired. Corbin Carroll, batting in the leadoff spot, drew a walk, and promptly stole second base. The aforementioned catcher, Miguel Amaya, tried to throw him out at second (seriously, why do they even bother?), threw the ball errantly, and Carroll advanced to third. So a runner right away, very much in scoring position. Alas, however, it was not to be, as Cubs’ starter Jameson Taillon buckled down and struck out Ketel Marte, Tommy Pham, and Christian Walker to leave Corbin still standing on the bag. Sad times.

And then the pitchers’ duel pretty much began in earnest. Gallen took the mound and set about retiring the top of the Chicago lineup in order to bring the first frame to a close. Taillon sat us down in order in the top of the second, Gallen sat down the Cubs in order in the bottom half. And so on. And so on. And so on.

It was a veritable parade for both teams of batters coming to the plate, batters making outs, batters going and sitting down again. Chicago didn’t get their first baserunner until there was one out in the bottom of the fourth, when Gallen hit Cubs’ second baseman Nico Hoerner with a pitch. Didn’t matter, though....Zac went back to getting hitters out, and more zeroes went up on the scoreboard.

Taillon was doing the same thing to us, though, but without the HBP. We didn’t get a second baserunner, or our first hit, until Carroll singled to left with two outs in the top of the sixth. Again, he stole second base, and again, Amaya threw the ball away trying to catch him, and again Carroll wound up standing at third. Again, though, sadly, he went not further, as Marte grounded out to first to end things.

The Cubs, meanwhile, got their first base hit in the bottom of the fifth, a one-out Seiya Suzuki single to Geraldo Perdomo at third that was erased six pitches later as Gallen struck out Jeimar Candelario looking and Gaby Moreno gunned down Suzuki as he tried to steal second. Gotta love the strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out double play, at least when we are the beneficiaries.

And so it continued, until the eighth inning. By that point, Taillon had left the game—he was pulled after six innings of honestly stellar work—and the Chicago bullpen was involved. One Julian Merryweather retired us in order, again, in the top of the seventh, before giving way to some guy named Jose Cuas, who allowed the second Diamondbacks hit of the ballgame, a leadoff Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. single to left. Moreno then drew a walk, bringing up Jordan Lawlar, who struck out swinging. Having faced his requisite three batters, Cuas went away, replaced by Mark Leiter, Jr., who struck out Perdomo for the second out. And so Corbin Carroll, who already had a hit, a walk, and two stolen bases, came to the plate. Corbin lined a ball to shallow right that Suzuki made a sliding grab at.

The umpires called it a catch on the field, but replay clearly showed that Suzuki didn’t quite get there in time, trapping in his his glove right after it struck the grass, and the call was overturned. Gurriel scored, Moreno advanced to third, and Carroll stood on first base. Marte grounded out to first, again, to end things, but we had a lead! 1-0 D-BACKS

Gallen, meanwhile, was out for the bottom of the eighth, and despite giving up his second hit of the ballgame, a leadoff single to Suzuki, nothing came of it but another zero for Zac We threatened a bit more in the top of the ninth, thanks to a two-out Alek Thomas single to right, followed by Alek’s ninth stolen base of the year. Gurriel lined out to end the frame, though, so it was time for Gallen to go back out there on more time.

Yan Gomes, who had replaced Amaya as Chicago’s catcher at some point, flied out to Thomas for the 25th out. Then the Cubs’ lineup turned over, and Gallen walked their DH. Nico Hoerner then flew out to Thomas, leaving Zac one out to get for his first career nine-inning complete game. Ian Happ came to the plate, grounded the first pitch he saw (and the 107th of Gallen’s day) to Perdomo behind second:

Done and done.

Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs

The King: Corbin Carroll (3 AB, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 RBI, 3 SB, +39.3% WPA)
The ACE: Zac Gallen (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, +78.1% WPA)

By the looks of it, we had a well-attended Gameday Thread, considering that first pitch was before noon on a weekday. 125 comments in total, with the comment of the game going by clear popular acclaim to Johnneu, who I think was speaking for everyone after that performance:

So hooray! We’ve already secured a series split, so come on by tomorrow to see if we can’t secure the series win and start getting brooms ready for Sunday. Merrill Kelly goes for us, ace-like lefty Justin Steele goes for the Baby Bears. Like today, first pitch is 11:20am AZ time, so you can have some baseball with the end of your morning coffee, perhaps. Hope you can join us.

As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go Diamondbacks!