Home runs doom Zac Gallen in NLCS game one

In real estate, the defining refrain seems to be, “location,” “location,” location.” Above all, the site and locale of a property usually dictate a sale and profits to be gained.

Same theory in baseball.

A pitcher’s success is usually dictated by execution and location. That’s especially true if a pitcher relies on off-speed deliveries. In the case of Arizona Diamondbacks’ Zac Gallen in game one of the NLCS on Monday night, his failure to locate and lack of timely execution, while uncharacteristic, doomed the right-hander.

In absorbing a 5-3 defeat in game one to the Philadelphia Phillies, Gallen proved a certain mortality and his inability to land critical pitches at critical times put the Diamondbacks behind in this best-of-seven series.

Allowing first inning bombs to lead-off hitter Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos’ homer in the second, Gallen quicky fell behind in this one. Then, he surrendered single runs in the third and fifth and by the time Gallen exited after five challenging innings, his vulnerability was revealed.

“He’s really good,” Harper told MLB of Gallen. “He throws everything for a strike. He does a great job of really tunneling the zone. He does a really good job. He has a really good plan when he pitches. So we were just trying to get him up in the zone the best we could and not miss the heater at any point. I thought we did a really good job of that.”

For the season, Gallen, who grew up just 15 minutes across the Delaware River in southern New Jersey from Citizen Bank Park, the number of home runs allowed was an aberration. For the entire season, Gallen was seventh in the National League in allowing the fewest home runs per 9-innings. His 0.943 was just over Jason Steele of the Cubs, who led the league with 0.727 in home runs allowed per 9-oinninsg.

Gallen’s teammate, Merrill Kelly, who is scheduled to start game two in this series on Tuesday night, was 10th in the National League with 1.013 in home runs allowed per 9-innings. Kelly will test both the Phillies’ continued ability to launch the long ball out of Citizens Bank Park as well as assessment of his pitches.

For now, Gallen hoped he experienced a minor aberration from an otherwise stellar season. Philadelphia hitters merely accentuate the challenge facing Arizona starters.

“(Castellanos) makes our lineup so deep, especially him in the seven-hole or eight-hole, it just gives him a good opportunity to have success,” Harper told ESPN.com. “Whenever he’s staying on the baseball and driving the ball to right-center and hitting the curveball or hitting the heater to left, that’s how Nicky is. He’s come through in so many big spots.”

The Diamondbacks could reach no closer than that final two-run margin.

Down 5-0, the Diamondbacks responded with a two-run homer from Geraldo Perdomo in the sixth inning and a sacrifice fly by Alek Thomas in the seventh. Yet, the Philly bullpen of Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvardo and closer Craig Kimbrel slammed the door.

The three bombs by the Phillies increased their major league lead in post-season play to 16 home runs. Perdomo’s two-run blast gives the Diamondbacks 14 bombs in this post-season and only second to the Phillies total.

Next … game two is Tuesday night in Citizens Bank Park. Righthander Merrill Kelly (1-0, 0.00 ERA in 2023 post-season) gets the nod for Arizona and opposed by Aaron Nola (2-0. 2.42). Games three, four and if necessary, game five, is scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Chase Field.

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