LOS ANGELES -- This was not something the D-backs expected to see -- the Dodgers scoring runs off Robbie Ray.If there was one thing the D-backs thought they could count on, it was that Ray, who dominated the Dodgers during the regular season, would deliver a victory in Game 2
LOS ANGELES -- This was not something the D-backs expected to see -- the Dodgers scoring runs off Robbie Ray.
If there was one thing the D-backs thought they could count on, it was that Ray, who dominated the Dodgers during the regular season, would deliver a victory in Game 2 and even the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile at one game apiece.
However, the Dodgers turned the tables on Ray using a patient approach in an 8-5 win over the D-backs on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
"I don't know if I want to share that," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of how his team adjusted against Ray. "He's a heck of a pitcher. And it's always a tall task trying to battle him and get baserunners. But I think today, he just wasn't that sharp."
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Ray entered the game having allowed just two runs over his last three starts against the Dodgers, striking out 37 and walking six in those outings. He went 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in five previous starts against them this season.
Early on, it was clear that Ray's command was a little off, as he walked four in the first three innings and uncorked a pair of wild pitches. Still, he held the Dodgers hitless until the fourth.
"I felt like the ball was coming out good, so no issues on that part," Ray said. "I was just a little bit all over the place."
One of the things that makes Ray so effective is his ability to get hitters to swing at breaking balls just below the lower edge of the strike zone.
Per Statcast™, Ray tied teammate Patrick Corbin for the most whiffs on breaking balls below the lower edge of the strike zone with 111 during the regular season.
On Saturday, the Dodgers were not swinging at them, either drawing walks or forcing Ray to come into the zone with a pitch they could handle.
"I think, at times, facing him this year, we've kind of gotten out of the approach and wanted to do too much," Dodgers second baseman John Forsythe said. "That was kind of harped on earlier today, what our plan wanted to be on the field -- try to keep him in the zone. When we keep him in the zone, we do well. The average is up, the slug is up, everything's up. We just get more barrels to the ball, plain and simple. Tonight, his slider, his offspeed, wasn't as sharp as it's been in the past, but it was still down. His fastball, he still had his velo, but I think all around, 1 through 9, we did a really good job of keeping the ball in the zone."
Ray will pitch a potential Game 5 on Thursday, if the D-backs can win a pair of games at Chase Field on Monday and Tuesday. If he does, he knows he'll need to land his breaking ball for strikes.
"I wasn't able to land it as much for strikes," Ray said of Saturday night. "So they just kind of stopped swinging at it."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.