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Early command troubles prove costly for Ray

All-Star lefty allows four early runs before settling in
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Robbie Ray didn't suffer the same kind of misfortune that fellow National League All-Stars Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw fell victim to on Sunday -- both hurlers left their starts early -- but the left-hander was roughed up in the D-backs' 6-2 loss to the Nationals at Chase Field.

Ray gave up four runs in the first on five hits, including Brian Goodwin's solo homer to lead off the game, and by the time he exited at the end of the fifth, Arizona was in a 5-1 hole.

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PHOENIX -- Robbie Ray didn't suffer the same kind of misfortune that fellow National League All-Stars Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw fell victim to on Sunday -- both hurlers left their starts early -- but the left-hander was roughed up in the D-backs' 6-2 loss to the Nationals at Chase Field.

Ray gave up four runs in the first on five hits, including Brian Goodwin's solo homer to lead off the game, and by the time he exited at the end of the fifth, Arizona was in a 5-1 hole.

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"I was just missing over the plate and wasn't able to put anybody away," Ray said. "That was the biggest thing. I felt like they kind of jumped on the pitches because I was missing everything over the middle instead of hitting my spots."

Wilmer Difo and Bryce Harper followed Goodwin's homer with singles, and a sacrifice fly from Ryan Zimmerman made it 2-0. Anthony Rendon and Jose Lobaton then added RBI singles to push the Washington lead to 4-0.

Video: WSH@ARI: Lobaton brings home Murphy with RBI single

Those four earned runs -- the third-inning run Ray allowed was unearned -- were the most Ray had surrendered in a start since June 30, and Sunday marked just the fifth time this year in 19 starts that Ray has allowed four or more earned runs in an outing.

Command was an issue early on for Ray; through the third inning, he had thrown first-pitch strikes to just 37.5 percent (6 of 16) of the batters he faced. His first-pitch strike average since the start of 2015 is 58.3 percent.

After the Nationals' offensive outburst in the first, however, Ray settled down and allowed just one hit the rest of the day.

"The four runs were some very well-hit balls, some balls that were mistakes out over the plate," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "And then after that, I thought Robbie did a nice job of making adjustments and making some pitches and getting through five innings. The line score looked a little worse than it was. If you eliminate that first inning, I feel like that outing wasn't as bad as it looked."

"It was just about taking an extra breather," Ray said. "Telling myself, 'Get as deep into this game as you can, give as many innings for the team as you can.' I think that was the biggest thing."

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.

Arizona Diamondbacks