Diamondbacks shut out Yankees, even series behind another strong Zac Gallen start

As is often the case during the monotonous moments of a baseball season, the topic of conversation during batting practice on Monday afternoon turned to a random hypothetical: If manager Torey Lovullo were to make out a lineup of only Diamondbacks pitchers, who would play where?

The defensive lineup Lovullo came up with did not sit well with right-hander Zac Gallen — he was positioned at second base instead of shortstop — and based on the play he made during the Diamondbacks’ 7-0 win over the Yankees on Tuesday night at Chase Field, he might have a point.

With one on and two out in the sixth, Gallen pounced off the mound to pick up Anthony Rizzo’s slow roller down the third-base line, then fired a strike to first for the final out of the inning — and the final out of what was a typically sterling Gallen performance.

“I’ll be in his office tomorrow, knocking on his door going, ‘You going to change that lineup or what?’” Gallen joked.

Gallen did not have to wait long to get his answer. Moments later, as Lovullo passed through the clubhouse, a reporter asked if he stood by his lineup selections, which included putting reliever Scott McGough at shortstop, starter Ryne Nelson at third, Gallen at second and reliever Kyle Nelson in center field. Lovullo did not hesitate.

“100 percent,” he said.

“That is a farce!” Gallen yelled from across the room.

There was nothing farcical about Gallen’s dominance. Over six scoreless innings against the New York Yankees, he allowed just six baserunners — three hits, three walks — only one of whom advanced to second base. Gallen permitted just two baserunners over his final four innings.

Gallen induced only four swings and misses, but he also allowed little in the way of hard contact, with only four balls put in play 95 mph or harder — three of which were hit on the ground, right where a pitcher wants them.

The offense scored three times in the first off Yankees lefty Nestor Cortes, a lead Gallen made stand, and Christian Walker launched a towering, three-run homer in the seventh to put the game out of reach. McGough, Ryan Thompson and Bryce Jarvis followed Gallen to the mound, each tossing a scoreless inning in relief.

With the win, the Diamondbacks improved to 4-2, and will look to secure their second series victory in as many tries to open the year when they send right-hander Merrill Kelly to the mound on Wednesday afternoon against Yankees lefty Carlos Rodon.

Gallen was in control the entire night — and that is including the defensive gem he made to end the sixth on a play he made look easier than it was.

“I think I was around 95 pitches, so I was kind of looking at it like, I really have to make this play,” Gallen said. “Just kind of got over there, (third baseman Eugenio Suarez) was playing in the shift, so I knew it was only me.”

After he fired a strike to first, Gallen let out a scream as he made his way off the field, and he joked later that his emotional reaction was fueled by Lovullo’s lineup decision. Gallen seemed to be joking, but for a pitcher who often uses the smallest of slights as motivation, there is no way to know for sure.

“It’s all fun,” Gallen said. “That’s what makes our clubhouse great. You have conversations like that with the manager and you can joke around and keep it light. You know, the season gets long.”

—Nick Piecoro

Corbin Carroll gets day to ‘recharge the batteries’

Corbin Carroll was out of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup on Tuesday as manager Torey Lovullo wanted to get his star right fielder “off his feet” for a night.

Lovullo said he was “still kicking” himself after center fielder Alek Thomas suffered a hamstring strain and wants to be sure to find days off in the coming days for all of his regular players.

“You can’t predict those things,” Lovullo said of Thomas’ injury, “but I know these athletes are working extremely hard over the course of spring training, they haven’t played four or five days in a row, and I’m hunting for days off for everybody.”

Arizona Diamondbacks' Corbin Carroll (7) races to third base against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field in Phoenix on March 31, 2024.
Arizona Diamondbacks' Corbin Carroll (7) races to third base against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field in Phoenix on March 31, 2024.

With Carroll going just 3-for-17 (.176) with six walks and two steals, Lovullo seemed to suggest a day off could help Carroll from a mental perspective, as well.

“Only he knows how he’s feeling,” Lovullo said. “And emotionally he can just take a deep breath. … He probably doesn’t want the day off, I’m imaging that, but it’s nice to know, like, ‘I can just turn off the engine a little bit. I haven’t had a chance to do that in a while.’”

Asked what he has noticed from Carroll at the plate, Lovullo said he has seen a hitter who is “maybe getting into a little bit of a fistfight” with certain pitches rather than laying off and looking for something else.

“It’s a very natural tendency to feel like you can hit every pitch this time of year,” Lovullo said. “Maybe shrink the zone down a little bit, look for his pitch, set the pitcher up and control the climate.”

Lovullo said he told Carroll to be ready in the event he is needed off the bench.

"I know he’s going to take advantage of the time down right now and recharge the batteries a little bit," Lovullo said.

—Nick Piecoro

Diamondbacks trade infielder Emmanuel Rivera to Marlins

The Diamondbacks made a minor deal on Tuesday, sending infielder Emmanuel Rivera to the Marlins in exchange for cash considerations.

Rivera had been designated for the assignment on Opening Day as a way to clear room for infielder Blaze Alexander, who beat him out for a spot on the roster.

Rivera was out of minor league options, so rather than risk losing him on waivers the Diamondbacks dealt him for money.

Rivera, 27, hit .261/.314/.358 with four homers in 257 at-bats last season and was outperformed by Alexander during spring training.

—Nick Piecoro

Injury updates on Eduardo Rodriguez, Paul Sewald

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is targeting a bullpen session later this week, manager Torey Lovullo said, and closer Paul Sewald played catch for the first time since straining his left oblique late in spring training.

Rodriguez, who is out with a left shoulder injury, played long toss on Tuesday and “felt very, very good,” Lovullo said.

“The fact that he’s asymptomatic and, from what I was told, really getting after it in his throwing program is a great sign,” Lovullo said.

As for Sewald, he played catch only from 60 feet but is doing so earlier than anticipated, Lovullo said.

“Today was a really good step,” he said.

—Nick Piecoro

DBacks-Yankees pitching matchup for Tuesday night

Tuesday night at Chase Field against the Yankees, Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen gets his second start of the season. He gave up one run in five innings in the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day blowout win over the Colorado Rockies. He ran into little trouble but said it was challenging to have to sit through a 34-minute half-inning in which the Diamondbacks scored 14 runs in the third.

Gallen faced the Yankees in September in New York, firing six scoreless innings. He has held Yankees RF Juan Soto to just three hits in 19 at-bats (.158) in 21 career plate appearances.

Yankees starter Nestor Cortes was an All-Star in 2022, when he logged a 2.44 ERA in 28 starts, but he posted just a 4.97 ERA in 12 starts last year while dealing with shoulder issues. In his first start this season, the lefty allowed four runs in five innings against the Astros, walking two and striking out five. LF Lourdes Gurriel has faced Cortes the most among Diamondbacks hitters but has gone just 1 for 11 with a double and five strikeouts.

Wednesday's DBacks-Yankees pitching matchup

Yankees at DBacks, 12:40 p.m., Cox, Ch. 34

Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly (1-0, 1.35) vs. Yankees LHP Carlos Rodon (0-0, 2.08).

Kelly worked 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rockies on Friday, pitching so efficiently that he created a difficult decision for manager Torey Lovullo, who did not want to push his veteran starter too hard in his first start of the season. … Kelly threw 14 sliders in that game and elicited whiffs on four of the five swings Rockies batters took at the pitch. He said it could become a bigger part of his repertoire this year. … Kelly has faced the Yankees twice in his career, including once last season when he gave up two runs in five innings. … Rodon, 31, is trying to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2023 season in which he posted a 6.85 ERA in 14 starts. His first outing of the year was a step in the right direction, though he lasted only 4 1/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits and three walks. … He averaged 95.7 mph with his fastball, another encouraging sign. … In five career starts against the Diamondbacks, he has a 5.53 ERA. 1B Christian Walker is 3 for 11 with a homer and two walks while 2B Ketel Marte is just 1 for 15 with three walks against Rodon.

Coming up

Thursday: Off.

Friday: At Atlanta, 4:20 p.m., Diamondbacks LHP Tommy Henry (0-1, 11.25) vs. Braves LHP Max Fried (0-0, 40.50).

Saturday: At Atlanta, 4:20 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Brandon Pfaadt (1-0, 1.80) vs. Braves LHP Chris Sale (0-0, 3.38).

Sunday: At Atlanta, 10:35 a.m., Diamondbacks RHP Ryne Nelson (0-1, 13.50) vs. Braves RHP Charlie Morton (1-0, 0.00).

What to know about the New York Yankees

The Yankees are coming off a disappointing 82-80 season that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time since 2016, though they continued a 28-year streak of winning seasons. In the off-season, they acquired three-time All-Star Juan Soto, giving them an elite one-two punch in the middle of their lineup. So far this season, Soto has hit second, with 2022 American League MVP Aaron Judge hitting third. Beyond those two, the Yankees are hoping for bounce-back years from veteran stars like Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton, both of whom struggled last season. The Yankees’ pitching staff is without reigning American League Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole, on the 60-day injured list with elbow inflammation. They bolstered their rotation in January, signing right-hander Marcus Stroman to a two-year, $37 million deal. The Yankees also boast one of the best bullpens in baseball. They led the sport with a 3.34 ERA last year and have ranked among the top five in that metric for three straight seasons. That unit is led by closer Clay Holmes.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Diamondbacks dominate Yankees behind strong outing from Zac Gallen