Gallagher Snaps Jaxx Losing Streak

Sean Gallagher won his fifth start since being promoted to Double-A West Tenn last month and helped snap a five-game Diamond Jaxx losing streak on Tuesday night against the Montgomery Biscuits at Pringles Park. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking three.

The 20-year-old upped his record to 9-2 overall this season, including 5-2 at West Tenn, where he has a 2.45 ERA in 40-plus innings.

His start against the Biscuits was not his most dominant outing of the year. That would have come against Chattanooga back on July 8, when Gallagher struck out a career-high 12 batters and scattered two hits in seven innings without allowing a run.

The only noticeable difference between his previous success at Daytona and now at West Tenn has been an increase in walk totals. Gallagher walked 21 in 78-plus innings in the Florida State League, but already had 10 free passes at West Tenn in his first two starts there, spanning 11 innings.

Since then, the walks have come at a declining rate with 16 in his last 29 1/3 innings. Following a start on July 3 at Huntsville, Gallagher admitted that he had been trying to throw too perfect a pitch in his first two Double-A outings. That mindset led to a brief but noticeable flaw in his mechanics, he added.

For the most part, Jaxx pitching coach Mike Anderson has liked everything he's seen out of the Cubs' rapidly rising young prospect.

"He'll be the first to tell you he just wasn't quite himself when he got here," Anderson said. "He was trying to be too fine and was trying to overthrow. He was having a hard time settling in against guys that were older than him.

"His start against Chattanooga is the Sean Gallagher we expect to see more of and is the guy we've been hearing about. He commanded three pitches and threw that big breaking ball for strikes."

Drafted two years ago from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Gallagher split a Cubs farm system best 14 wins with current Florida Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco last year en route to being tabbed the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He began 2006 at Daytona, where he was 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 13 starts.

Ironically, Gallagher's success at Class A Peoria last year came somewhat by mistake. He was initially scheduled to begin the year in Extended Spring Training before an opportunity opened with a full-season team. In just his third start there, he threw a combined no-hitter. The rest was history.

"I don't know if the opportunity presented itself due to injuries, but I went into Spring Training and knew ‘extended' was not something I wanted to do," Gallagher told Inside The Ivy. "It's two and a half months just sitting in the sun and basically doing the exact same things. That was my motivation for wanting to get to a full-season team and prove what I can do."

Later on in September, with minor league play coming to a close, Gallagher was promoted to Daytona and made one start. Being promoted in the middle of the season this year as opposed to the final week was something he took pride in, but wasn't overly expecting.

"Last year, I sort of let it affect me a little after the All-Star break when I wasn't moved up," Gallagher said. "I had a conversation with one of the upper-management guys, who told me they wanted me to make the adjustments with one team being that it was really my first year in pro ball. Coming into this year, I knew I was going to go to Daytona, close to the beach and to most of my family. I couldn't complain either way."

Gallagher's performance on Tuesday snapped the Jaxx longest losing streak of the season and improved the team to 13-13 in the second half of Southern League play, two games behind the first-half Northern Division champion Lookouts. Brian Dopirak and Southern League All-Star Game MVP Scott Moore each had three hits to lead the way for the offense in a 5-1 win.

Dopirak, sidelined almost two months earlier this season with a broken metatarsal bone, entered Saturday night's loss to Mobile batting just .218, but has since gone 6-for-8 with three doubles and is batting .252. Since the All-Star break, Moore had been 1-for-18, but bumped his average back to .271 with his three-hit performance.

At the root of the team's success has been the Jaxx starting pitching, which has remained the best in all of Double-A with a combined 2.78 ERA.

"They had a good first half," Anderson said. "One got to go to the big leagues in Carlos Marmol, and Randy Wells is doing a heck of a job at Triple-A. The guys here have all been doing well from day one and got off to a good start. They've been trying to out-do each other and often kid each other from start to start. It's been a pretty good run."

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