Gallagher Back on Track

Sean Gallagher improved to 3-1 since his call-up to Double-A West Tennessee last month. The right-hander had arguably his best outing since the promotion on Monday night when he pitched six innings and allowed two runs on four hits in the team's 6-2 win over Huntsville.

A first-half all-star in the Florida State League, Gallagher was undefeated through much of the first three months of the season before suffering his first defeat on June 28 at Tennessee in Sevierville. He walked 21 in 78-plus innings at Class A Daytona prior to being brought up, but had 10 walks in his first two Double-A starts totaling 11 innings.

It was not something Gallagher or Diamond Jaxx manager Pat Listach had expected.

"He didn't throw the ball good at all," Listach said when thinking back to Gallagher's first start at Double-A on June 16. "He only threw five innings and almost threw 100 pitches. But I looked at his numbers and I knew he was better than what he showed me the first time out. He's a strike-thrower, and not the guy I saw [last month] in Huntsville."

The second time around against the Stars at Joe Davis Stadium saw Gallagher tie his fewest hits allowed since the call-up. He knows precisely why he struggled with the walk totals his first two starts.

"It was me trying to make the perfect pitch every time," Gallagher said. "I got away from my game. With that mindset, I got into a little trouble with my mechanics. You have to believe in your stuff."

Trouble with mechanics?

"I was rushing forward with my delivery and flying open in the front," the 20-year-old said. "I was getting a little long with my arm in the back. I'm not a short-arm type, but I had gotten really long with it, and it made me rush a little to catch up. [Consequently] I was leaving a lot of pitches up in the zone and didn't really have the command I always had."

The Jaxx improved to 9-6 in the second half and are currently in a three-way tie atop the Southern League's Northern Division after having won four straight games. The team finished 43-27 in the first half, just one game behind division champion Chattanooga.

Center fielder Chris Walker awarded himself a nice birthday gift with three hits atop the order and three stolen bases. Walker now has a farm system best 32 stolen bases in 43 attempts. The team's leadoff hitter, who turned 26 on Monday, has hits in 12 of his last 13 games and is batting .302 for the year.

The Jaxx will host Chattanooga for five games at Pringles Park this week before teams break for the Southern League All-Star Game Monday, July 10, in Montgomery, Ala. Walker will be one of eight Jaxx players representing the Cubs' Double-A affiliate at the annual event.

According to Walker and teammate J.R. Mathes, also an all-star, the Jaxx are especially hungry for the Lookouts.

"If you go back to that first series with them (in April), we lost three of five to them," Walker said. "That one little extra win against them would have made all the difference in the first half. We're hungry for them."

Mathes knows his worst performance of the season was against Chattanooga. The left-hander allowed a season-high nine runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Reds' affiliate and is anxious to show them what he's really made of.

He has a win in each of his last three starts, in which he has allowed five runs in 21 1/3 innings. Mathes is the Cubs' minor league leader in wins with eight and has a 3.14 ERA in 17 starts.

"Chattanooga is a great team," Mathes told Inside The Ivy in a recent interview, "but I'm looking forward to going back out against them and showing what I'm like on one of my better days."

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