Ray K's 10 in gem, ends D-backs' skid with win

September 5th, 2018

PHOENIX -- For the second straight start, Robbie Ray looked a lot like the 2017 version of himself, and that's a really good thing for the D-backs if they're going to chase down the teams in front of them and make a postseason run.

Ray struck out 10 over 6 1/3 innings as the D-backs took the finale of the two-game series against the Padres with a 6-0 win on Tuesday night at Chase Field.

The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the D-backs, who remained in third place in the National League West, 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Rockies and one game behind the second-place Dodgers.

Ray combined with relievers , and to allow only three hits.

"Nice to get back on the other side of things," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.

Ray (5-2) was on top of his game from the start as he fanned the first four batters he faced and didn't allow a hit through 4 2/3 innings, before singled to left.

"You saw how dominant he can be tonight," veteran infielder said. "They didn't really have much going. He really kind of dictated the tempo. When he's throwing strikes and can get guys to chase that breaking ball, he's really effective."

A few starts ago, Ray made several slight changes in his mechanics. He focused more on going directly toward home plate with his stride and improving his tempo.

It's led to back-to-back wins for Ray with one run allowed in 11 2/3 innings.

"My last two starts is about as mechanically sound as I've felt all year," Ray said. "It just feels effortless, and every pitch has a purpose."

Ray was 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA last year and was a key cog as the D-backs captured the top NL Wild Card berth.

This year, the consistent dominant performances that Ray churned out in 2017 have not been there. The Padres, who had faced him twice previously this year, noticed the difference.

"This year, it's the best I've seen him," San Diego third baseman said. "We ran into maybe some starts last year that were better, but this year, it's the best he's been. He commanded both sides of the plate well and dropping in that breaking ball."

Said Padres manager Andy Green, "That's by far and away the best we've seen him [this year]. It's as much life to the heater as he's had, as much life to the slider."

When they see Ray pitch like this, the D-backs can't help but be optimistic about their chances not only of reaching the postseason, but making noise once they get there.

"We know that's in there," Lovullo said. "I feel like if we're going to go where we want to get to by the end of this year, we're going to need Robbie to step up and do what he's capable of doing. Not any more. Not any less. Just being Robbie Ray."

The D-backs gave Ray a 2-0 lead in the second on a Nick Ahmed RBI triple and sacrifice fly. They tacked on four more runs in the seventh with a rally that included RBI singles by Descalso and .

MOMENT THAT MATTERED

Getting Archie right: is usually used in high-leverage situations, but after a rough stretch in which he struggled in back-to-back games against the Dodgers over the weekend, Lovullo decided to get the right-hander some work with a 6-0 lead in the eighth. Though he gave up a leadoff double, Bradley worked out of the jam, and the D-backs hope he regained some confidence along the way.

"Nice to see Archie get back out there," Lovullo said. "He had good finish to his pitches."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Luis Urias looked to have at least a double in the fourth, when he hit a drive into the gap in left-center. However, A.J. Pollock covered 99 feet in five seconds, per Statcast™, to make a diving catch. The play had a 29-percent catch probability, and Pollock's sprint speed was 29.8 feet/second (30 feet/second is considered elite).

"It's plays like that that give you energy and give you that extra boost to want to make better pitches and get quick outs and get the team back in the dugout so they can put up some runs," Ray said.

HE SAID IT

"If Bob can pitch like he did tonight, it's going to be a nice boost for us down the stretch." -- Descalso, on Ray

UP NEXT

The D-backs will have their ace, Zack Greinke, on the mound when they open a four-game series with the Braves on Thursday night at Chase Field at 6:40 p.m. MST. Greinke (13-9, 2.97 ERA) took a no-decision in his last start when he held the Dodgers to three runs over 7 1/3 innings. Greinke has a 1.86 ERA in his last six starts at home. The Braves will counter with (6-5, 2.98).