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Zac Gallen shuts down White Sox to earn 1st career win

Following Caleb Smith’s example from the previous night, the Marlins right-hander had filthy stuff, and the run support arrived just in time for him to earn the W.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Chicago White Sox Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins concluded their road trip Wednesday night with one of the most satisfying wins of the season. Zac Gallen held the White Sox scoreless through seven innings, center fielder César Puello had an eighth inning for the ages, and Sergio Romo shut the door in the ninth to secure the rubber game for the Fish, 2-0.

Although Gallen entered the evening with adequate rookie numbers (3.63 ERA, 3.94 FIP in 5 GS), he had been winless and quality start-less due to his lack of control. His bloated 14.1% walk rate in the majors was perplexing given the right-hander’s track record of filling up the strike zone at lower levels of competition.

Gallen seemed to be headed for more of the same when a single and two hit by pitches loaded the bases in the bottom of the third. He then fell behind 3-0 in the count to Yoan Moncada. But the 23-year-old dodged a bullet when Moncada flew out on the subsequent pitch—a 92 mile-per-hour fastball—to end the threat.

There was much less drama from that point onward. Featuring an especially nasty changeup, Gallen got ahead of opponents consistently during his second and third pass through the lineup. His season earned run average dropped from 3.63 to 2.76 in the span of a few hours.

Meanwhile, López was every bit as impressive. He not only showed high-90s fastball velocity, but the ability to locate it precisely. The Dominican right-hander threw 78.4% of his pitches for strikes.

The Fish and Sox exchanged zeroes until the top of the eighth inning. Harold Ramírez was grazed by a high fastball from López to lead off the frame.

A month-and-a-half removed from his last dinger (as a member of the Angels), the heavily muscled Puello brought him home with a 432-foot, two-run blast to left:

Relieving Gallen, Nick Anderson may have squandered the 2-0 advantage...had it not been for Puello. Yes, in addition to building the lead for the Marlins, he played a critical role in preserving it.

Adam Engel ripped a line drive to center that Puello needed to come in decisively to snag in time. Then, representing the tying run, José Abreu hit a towering fly ball to the left-center gap. Puello was there once again with a well-timed leap to end the inning.

Romo navigated around two ninth-inning singles to convert his 17th save of the 2019 campaign. He hasn’t surrendered an earned run since June 20.

Puello’s homer and defense made a winner out of Gallen. He becomes the 15th different Marlins pitcher to earn a W this season.

Beginning Friday, the Marlins host the Diamondbacks for Throwback Weekend! Uniform designs circa 1997, alumni appearances, fresh giveaways and’s arguably the highlight of this rebuilding year. Probable starters for the series opener are Zack Greinke and Sandy Alcantara. First pitch at 7:10 p.m.

Marlins vs. White Sox box score (Baseball Theater)

Fish Picks answer key

  1. López
  2. Over
  3. Under
  4. No
  5. Marlins