Rookie pitcher Zac Gallen made his Marlins Park debut on Wednesday and threw five innings, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in a 7-5 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Gallen started his outing with a strikeout but ended up with two runners on base before Matt Adams lined out to second base to end the inning. He knocked in his first career hit in the third inning and scored on a RBI single by Harold Ramirez.
Gallen cruised all the way to the sixth inning until three straight hits ended his night. Wei-Yin Chen came in relief and a three-run home run by Adams broke open the game for Washington.
“I think ultimately when you get through the lineup a third time, guys have seen enough pitches and they don’t want to get to two strikes or deep into counts,” Gallen said. “They just ambushed a few pitches.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly believed Gallen deserved to make through the sixth inning after throwing 76 pitches through the first five. However his hand was forced after the Nationals jumped on Gallen.
“Overall, you have to make a call with a young guy like that,” Mattingly said. “Do you let him go five innings and get him out of there and leave it positive, or do you let him keep growing? Obviously, it didn’t go good today but I’m sure he’s going to learn from it.”
One other interesting tidbit about Gallen is that he wears glasses on the mound but takes them off while at the plate. He has a good reason for that.
“The glasses are only because, at nighttime, I can’t see the signs,” Gallen said. “My astigmatism and the shadows. … I probably could use them for hitting, but I don’t wear them every day. It throws me off even more.”
Caleb Smith is one rehab start away from returning from his month long stay from the injured list. One of the trio of young starters (Gallen, Jordan Yamamoto and Elieser Hernandez) will have to return to Triple-A New Orleans in order to make room. What might be the best direction to go is to move Hernandez to the bullpen as a way to fortify an area of need.