Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks aim to upend unbeaten Yankees

Zac Gallen recently said his dream opponent to face in the World Series is the New York Yankees.

Only time will tell if that happens this fall but the Arizona ace right-hander will see the New York hitters up close Tuesday night when the Diamondbacks host the Yankees in Phoenix.

Gallen’s choice is tied to the 2001 World Series in which Arizona defeated New York in seven games.

“For me that was probably the first World Series I remember watching,” the 28-year-old Gallen told USA Today. “My brother was a Yankees’ fan and I remember watching Game 7. That would be cool, that would be a nostalgic thing for me as a kid to get to relive that Series that I watched.”

The Diamondbacks lost to the Texas Rangers in five games in last season’s World Series, which was Arizona’s first visit to the World Series since the 2001 title campaign.

Arizona will be looking to even the three-game set with New York with Gallen on the mound. The Yankees cruised to a 5-2 victory in Monday’s series opener to achieve a 5-0 start for just the fifth time in franchise history and the first since winning their first six games in 1992.

Gallen will attempt to shatter the Yankees’ unbeaten start. All five of New York’s victories have come on the road.

Gallen (1-0, 1.80 ERA) has faced the Yankees just once in his career and things went exceedingly well. He gave up just three hits in six shutout innings and struck out eight and walked two in a 7-1 win in the Bronx on Sept. 24.

He has enjoyed success against two New York hitters who used to be with National League teams, most recently the San Diego Padres. Juan Soto is 3-for-19 with one homer against Gallen and Trent Grisham is 4-for-24 with one homer.

Gallen won his Opening Day start this season when the Diamondbacks trounced the visiting Colorado Rockies 16-1. He gave up one run, three hits, two walks and struck out three.

But New York figures to be a much stiffer test. The Yankees have outscored opponents 26-13 during the strong start.

“I think we have a lot of hard-working guys,” New York shortstop Anthony Volpe said of the early success. “Coming out of spring, we knew that we could come out to a fast start and that’s what we wanted to do. So it’s nice to see.”

Volpe was the star hitter in Monday’s victory as he went 4-for-4 with two runs and one RBI. It was his first career four-hit outing.

New York scored two runs in the second inning and three in the third. Both Arizona runs came on sacrifice flies by Ketel Marte.

“Coming in here playing a really good team, it was nice to make a big inning hold up for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “… I feel like as well as we’ve done so far offensively, I also feel like we’re not really rolling yet.”

Left-hander Nestor Cortes (0-0, 7.20) will start Tuesday’s game for New York.

Cortes, 29, received a no-decision in his season debut against the host Houston Astros on Thursday. He gave up four runs and five hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked two.

Cortes’ lone career appearance against the Diamondbacks came on July 31, 2019, and he faced one batter, serving up a homer to Tim Locastro.

Cortes held fast-starting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in check when the latter played for the Toronto Blue Jays. Gurriel is 1-for-11 with five strikeouts against Cortes.