Gallagher learns valuable lesson
Cubs rookie righty battles through struggles, saves bullpen
CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella gave Sean Gallagher a kick in the butt and a pat on the back.
The White Sox pounded the Cubs rookie for five runs and eight hits in six innings during their 6-5 win on Saturday. Gallagher struck out a career-high eight batters and walked three in an educational no-decision.
"I'm just going to take it as another step forward," Gallagher said. "I was able to battle through it and keep my team in it as long as I could. I made the adjustments in the later innings to be where I needed to be to stay in the game."
"It was just me leaving pitches up," Gallagher said. "I was too amped up. I was getting a little rushed in my delivery, causing me to lag behind a little bit."
Alexei Ramirez doubled to lead off the second. Piniella had had enough and vented on a visit to the mound.
"I went on the mound and told him he had to bury his breaking ball down in the dirt, make the hitters swing at it occasionally," Piniella said.
"At that point, Lou was a little ticked off," Gallagher said. "He wanted to get the point across himself. ... He wanted to light a fire under my butt, be [ticked] off and get me focused on the task at hand. He wanted to get what was on his mind across to me. It worked out well."
Gallagher heeded the advice and settled down. Every extra out was crucial because the bullpen had been taxed the past two games. As he struggled early, Gallagher peered to the 'pen and saw nobody warming up. That's when he realized he was in for the long haul.
"I knew I needed to last a little longer," said Gallagher, who threw a season-high 121 pitches in his first start since June 19. "I was like, 'This is my game. I've got to go. I've got to keep my pitches down, stay in this game and battle through it. I've got to give the rest of our bullpen a rest.'"
Gallagher gave up two more runs after Piniella's visit, a second-inning double by Orlando Cabrera and a Ramirez homer in the fourth.
Piniella's lecture kicked in for Gallagher in a fifth-inning jam. After getting Dye to pop out, he walked Thome and gave up a single to Crede. Gallagher struck out the next two batters, Swisher and Ramirez, then went 1-2-3 in the sixth.
The Cubs weren't sure how Gallagher would handle his first South Side start, so starter Jason Marquis was stationed in the bullpen, just in case. Piniella pulled Gallagher aside after the game to praise the way he battled and let him know that the outing should be taken as a learning experience.
"The young guy dug in there and did a hell of a job, I was proud of him," Piniella said. "Give the guy credit. He went out there, gave us six good innings, threw 120 pitches. That's how you become a successful Major League pitcher."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.