When the dust had settled, the 20-year-old Gallagher had made it six consecutive starts without a loss to open 2006. In all, he’s not lost since August of last year while pitching for Class-A Peoria in a season that saw him win Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award honors come September.
Gallagher went six innings in his most recent start on Thursday, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits. Not his best outing, but his fourth quality start in six appearances this season. He struck out eight without a walk and kept his ERA under two points at 1.78.
The right-hander now has 37 strikeouts this season, two better than Peoria left-hander Donald Veal for the most in the farm system.
“He is one of the most competitive pitchers I have ever coached, if not the most competitive,” Daytona pitching coach Tom Pratt said of Gallagher. “For his age, he’s got an advanced makeup as far as competing and having a leadership role on the mound. He never gives in to anyone.”
Despite the 14-inning marathon, Daytona needed only four relief pitchers after Gallagher retired for the day. Jonathan Hunton, Carlos Vasquez and winning pitcher Tim Layden each threw two innings or more to give Issmael Salas’s pitching arm a night off. Salas, an infielder, was brought in to pitch in Daytona’s 11-inning affair with Palm Beach on April 28.
In the nightcap, Matt Weber continued to struggle and fell to 0-3 as Daytona lost, 5-3. He has allowed 24 runs in 23 innings for an 8.61 ERA in six starts.
With an average of barely one strikeout per start and a .363 average against, Pratt said he felt it was important to remember Weber’s young age (he turns 21 Friday). Still, it might be somewhat difficult to ignore that Gallagher is even younger than Weber, though only by seven-plus months.
“He needs to get better command of his fastball,” Pratt said of Weber. “He does have tremendous aptitude and his work ethic is beyond ... he’s very well-prepared. He hasn’t quite developed his velocity yet, but at his age, I expect him to throw a little harder later on and to be able to get away with a mistake once in awhile.”
Top outfield prospect Ryan Harvey finished the day a combined 2-for-8. He is 5-for-16 with two doubles and four RBIs to open the month after finishing April with a .179 average. The Cubs aren’t worried about his slow start.
“It’s not how you start the season,” Cubs head of Player Development Oneri Fleita reminded us, “it’s how you finish. Ryan will be OK.”
ELSEWHERE ON THE FARM ... In Nashville, Tenn., Iowa dropped their second one-run game in as many nights, 3-2. The team mustered four hits and has dropped 12 of their last 14 games. Felix Pie continues his recent slide with no hits in his last 15 at-bats and just one in his last 22 overall. Since April 20, his average has gone from .333 to .260.
Jae-Kuk Ryu dropped his third game in six starts this season, as he gave up a season high nine hits. He surrendered two runs and walked two batters to take the team lead in free passes with 14 this season. Iowa has lost in five of his six starts this season, but twice Ryu has left with the lead.
“He’s making good strides,” said Iowa pitching coach Alan Dunn. “It’s a matter of being consistent with his command, mainly his fastball. He’s got an excellent feel for his changeup and has a good knowledge of how to control the bat speed of the hitters. I’m looking for some really good things from him.”
In Jackson, Tenn., West Tenn moved into sole possession of second place behind Chattanooga in the Southern League North. The Jaxx beat Huntsville on Thursday, 9-1. Chris Shaver lowered his ERA to 2.05 in four starts with the team since being promoted from Daytona. The 6’7” left-hander tied a season high eight strikeouts and walked one.
Micah Hoffpauir had his first multi-hit game since April 19, collecting three hits to push his average to .287 after it had dipped to .258 earlier in the week. Hoffpauir continues to hit left-handers well with a .419 (13-for-31) average and nine extra base hits.
In Peoria, the Chiefs welcomed the former Cubs Midwest League affiliate to town in the Lansing Lugnuts. Todd Blackford allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings for his first win since his 2006 debut on April 7. Peoria won, 5-3. Blackford has four wild pitches in his last two starts and has given up the most runs by a Peoria pitcher (17) this season for a 5.10 ERA.
Ed Campusano now has eight saves, including six in his last six appearances. He has a 1.35 ERA, a .111 average against and 20 strikeouts to four walks. Jeff Teasley gave up two runs in relief, his first since April 11 after tossing 11-plus consecutive scoreless innings. He has gone two innings or more in five straight outings and holds a 1.59 ERA in nine appearances.
Kyle Reynolds has 11 hits in 32 at-bats since he was called up from Extended Spring Training. He drove in his first run of the season and has struck out 10 times without a walk this season.