D-backs tee off on Strasburg to even series

Escobar sets career marks in homers, RBIs; Ray gets the job done with 5 innings

August 4th, 2019

PHOENIX -- If there’s been one constant throughout this season for the D-backs, it’s that they’re a hard team to predict.

Coming off a pair of losses and a game Friday in which they managed one measly hit -- an infield single by pitcher Alex Young -- you could not have liked their chances facing Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who was fresh off winning National League Pitcher of the Month for July.

So, naturally, the D-backs came out and roughed up Strasburg for the second time this year in an 18-7 pounding of the Nationals.

The win pulled the D-backs to within 3 1/2 games of the Nationals and Phillies, who are tied for the second National League Wild Card spot.

“It was a nice bounce back after a tough offensive game yesterday,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “These guys have done it all year long. They find a way to turn the page and shower off the last day, and they’re ready for the challenge.”

And make no mistake, the D-backs still face a big challenge when it comes to the Wild Card chase as they are still under .500 at 55-56 with four teams to jump over.

But Saturday they made a statement that despite their recent lackluster play and the front office’s decision to deal ace Zack Greinke, they were still going to fight.

“It was huge,” said , who picked up the win. “I think we had one hit yesterday and it was the pitcher. So, to come back today and do what we did was huge for this team. Just to get the bats rolling.”

led the way offensively, hitting a pair of homers and driving in a career high seven runs pushing his season total to 88, which is a new career mark. His 24 swats are also a new best.

Nick Ahmed, Jake Lamb and Alex Avila also homered for Arizona.

Strasburg has been outstanding for much of the season, but the D-backs have had his number.

On Saturday Arizona collected five homers, three of which came against Strasburg, who allowed nine runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings. And on June 15 in Washington, the D-backs hit four home runs in a six-run effort on Strasburg in his five innings.

“I think it’s just one of those things where, for some reason this year, the couple of times we’ve faced him, we’re able to take advantage of the few mistakes he would make,” Avila said. “The one thing that just stands out is that we were able to continue it. Not just one good inning, but quality ABs all the way through. We were able to kind of snowball it a little bit.”

This was Ray’s first outing since the Trade Deadline. His name had been bandied about quite a bit as a possible trade chip, but in the end the team held onto him and traded Greinke, which came as a surprise to many.

With Greinke gone, Ray assumes the mantle of No. 1 starter, but he’s not looking at it that way.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure,” Ray said. “I go about my business. I take the ball every five days and I run with it. I don’t try to put any outside pressure on myself. I do enough of that, so I don’t want to put any added pressure on top of myself. It’s going to take all five guys in this rotation for us to make a push here.”