Zac Gallen pitched like an ace for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday afternoon.
The Diamondbacks will need a similar outing from Gallen on Wednesday night, when Arizona will try to maintain its lead in the race for the National League's third wild card while visiting the New York Mets in the third game of a four-game series.
Gallen (15-7, 3.31 ERA) is slated to start against Mets left-hander Joey Lucchesi (2-0, 3.54).
The loss by the Diamondbacks (76-70), coupled with Cincinnati's 6-5, 10-inning win over the Detroit Tigers, cut Arizona's lead over the Reds (75-71) to one game in the scramble for the final playoff spot in the NL.
The Diamondbacks remained two games behind the second wild-card spot, held by the Chicago Cubs (78-68), and 1 1/2 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants (74-71) and the Miami Marlins (74-71) after all three of those teams lost on Tuesday.
Arizona starter Ryne Nelson lasted just 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday as the Mets raced out to a 6-1 lead. The Diamondbacks, who recorded only six hits but drew seven walks and had two batters hit by pitches, squandered opportunities to tie the score or take the lead in the sixth and eighth.
With the bases loaded and one out each time, Arizona batters hit into double plays — pinch hitter Evan Longoria in the sixth, All-Star rookie Corbin Carroll in the eighth.
"I felt like we created some traffic and some opportunity, we just couldn't take advantage of it," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "We were patient in certain situations, got on base via the walk (and) hand it off to the next guy. We just couldn't close the gap."
Gallen, fresh off one of the best outings of his career, will look to spare a bullpen that pitched 8 2/3 innings the past two games. The 28-year-old limited the Cubs to three hits while going the distance in a 1-0 win on Friday. He struck out nine and walked one.
The shutout was the second of Gallen's career but the first in which he pitched nine innings. He blanked the Atlanta Braves on one hit over seven innings on April 25, 2021, when the Diamondbacks earned a 5-0 win in the opener of a doubleheader consisting of two seven-inning games.
Gallen is 0-1 with a 2.42 ERA in five career starts against the Mets.
"We have Zac Gallen going, so we're expecting at least six innings," Lovullo said. "We should be just fine."
The short- and long-term future for the Mets (66-78) grew intriguing and murky on Tuesday, when former Milwaukee Brewers executive David Stearns reportedly agreed to become New York's president of baseball operations.
Stearns spent seven-plus years as the general manager and president of baseball operations for the Brewers, who made the playoffs in four straight seasons from 2018 through 2021 and reached Game 7 of the 2018 NL Championship Series.
Though general manager Billy Eppler is expected to remain in his position, the future of manager Buck Showalter — signed through next season — is less clear.
"Stay on task," Showalter said Tuesday afternoon. "These things usually work themselves out if you stay true to the game and what your job description is."
Lucchesi, who is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday, last pitched for the Mets on Aug. 18, when he earned a win by tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings in a 7-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. He is 2-5 with a 4.75 ERA in nine career games (eight starts) against the Diamondbacks.
—Field Level Media