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Diamondbacks’ Zac Gallen intent on halting struggles vs. Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen has a score to settle and will get his chance at some revenge, not to mention the opportunity Monday to give his club a commanding lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

Gallen will take the mound for Arizona on the road in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, looking to give the upstart Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead with the series set to shift to Phoenix on Wednesday.

The Diamondbacks used a six-run first inning against Dodgers legend Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, scoring five of those runs before making their first out of the evening, to earn an 11-2 victory on Saturday.

“I think going in with ease is definitely the wrong mindset, especially against the Dodgers, especially against that lineup,” Gallen said when asked if the team’s strong performance in the opener will change his approach. “They’re going to come out firing. But I also don’t think there’s pressure.”

There was no doubt Gallen was not about to offer pity, not after he was handed two of his worst defeats of the season by the Dodgers.

Gallen gave up five earned runs in a start seven times this season and two were against the Dodgers, including Aug. 28 at Los Angeles where he served up a career-worst four homers and gave up six runs in a 7-4 loss. That came during a three-game sweep by the Dodgers when the D-backs were outscored 23-5.

Gallen had a 9.90 ERA in his only two starts against the Dodgers this season and went 0-2 during a season when he won a career-best 17 games and had an overall 3.47 ERA in 34 starts. In 11 career starts against the Dodgers, Gallen is 1-4 with a 3.48 ERA.

Gallen brings plenty of momentum into Monday’s start. He earned the win in Arizona’s wild-card round clincher over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday by giving up two runs over six innings as the D-backs won 5-2.

After the Dodgers’ bullpen had to cover 26 of the 27 outs in Game 1 after Kershaw’s meltdown, Los Angeles could use all it could get out of rookie right-hander Bobby Miller in Game 2. Miller faced the D-backs twice this season and went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings.

As the Dodgers struggled to keep their starters healthy this season, one of the positives was the arrival of Miller, whose 100 mph fastball helped him to an 11-4 record with a 3.76 ERA over the first 22 starts of his promising career.

Fellow rookies Emmet Sheehan and Michael Grove also got a chance to showcase themselves, with Sheehan and Grove making their playoff debuts in Game 1.

“We’ve been talking a lot every single day how much of a blessing it is to be here and a chance for some of us young guys to win a World Series,” Miller said. “I’ve kind of talked to Emmet a little bit about it, and now it’s come to reality. But right now, just focus on the Diamondbacks.”

Not only was Kershaw crushed in Game 1, the Dodgers’ offense appeared stagnant as well, not scoring a run until a two-run triple by Will Smith in the eighth inning.

An off day Sunday between Games 1 and 2 not only could help the Dodgers reset their focus, but it helps the bullpen as well, although manager Dave Roberts was not concerned since none of the club’s high-leverage relievers pitched in the series opener.

“I think the off day might kind of, hopefully, cool those bats down on the other side,” Roberts said. “So, yeah, I’m good with (the day off). Our ‘pen, the pitching, everything’s lined up. I feel good about where we’re at.”

–Doug Padilla, Field Level Media

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