D-backs close in on Phillies, wild-card spot

The rubber match of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday in Phoenix will include two starting pitchers acquired at last week’s trade deadline.

Philadelphia lefty Jason Vargas (6-5, 3.93 ERA) has already made his debut with his new team, but this will be the first appearance for Zac Gallen (1-3, 2.72) with the Diamondbacks.

Jason Vargas
Phillies starting pitcher Jason Vargas. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

The 24-year-old right-hander was acquired from the Miami Marlins in exchange for Arizona’s top-rated prospect — 21-year-old Double-A shortstop Jazz Chisholm.

“I had no idea and it was kind of crazy,” Gallen said of the trade.

Gallen, who made his major league debut on June 20, started seven games for the Marlins, allowing 25 hits while striking out 43 and walking 18 in 36 1/3 innings.

He pitched seven innings in each of his past two starts, allowing no runs and two hits against the Chicago White Sox on July 24 before giving up two runs and four hits vs. the Minnesota Twins on July 30.

Before his call-up, he was 9-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A New Orleans in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Gallen credits his cutter with his success this season.

“I kind of lost the feel for it last year, and I tried to concentrate on it more in the offseason, and I think it’s helped me a lot,” he said.

He will try to cool off Philadelphia’s Scott Kingery, who grew up in Phoenix and dreamed of playing in Chase Field. He is 8-for-20 this season against the Diamondbacks, with seven extra-base hits — four home runs, two doubles and a triple.

He is 4-for-9 in the series with a home run and two doubles.

Kingery has spent most of his breakout season playing the outfield but is expected to see the majority of his time at third base after the recent demotion of third baseman Maikel Franco.

“Personally, I think my skill set plays really well at second base.” Kingery told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “But center field, I feel like it plays well there, too. It’s not up to me to decide, though. Wherever it is, if I get consistent playing time, I’ll get comfortable and make it feel natural.”

Vargas won his final three starts for the New York Mets but came away with a no-decision for the Phillies in Friday’s wild 4-3 loss in 15 innings against the Chicago White Sox. He gave up two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Vargas is 2-3 with a 6.82 ERA in six career starts against Arizona, and it’s been more than a decade since he beat the Diamondbacks. He picked up a victory over Arizona as a rookie with the Florida Marlins in 2005 and also won on June 20, 2009, as a member of the Mariners.

The D-backs’ 8-4 win Tuesday night moved them within 2 1/2 games of the Phillies, who hold the second wild-card spot in the National League. Eduardo Escobar was one of the hitting stars with a home run and three RBIs to give him the major league lead at 92.

“I don’t think a lot of people outside the NL West know him very well, but he’s certainly making his season very complete with each at-bat, each home run, each RBI that he gets,” said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. “Great player … great teammate.”

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

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