Ray's inconsistent '20 continues in loss at SF

D-backs left-hander fans 8, but allows 2 HRs and 5 walks

August 22nd, 2020

Rumors swirled around D-backs starter at last year’s Trade Deadline. There was speculation that he would be moved during the winter. But Arizona chose to keep the left-hander, who will be a free agent this offseason, and now a new set of questions have surfaced.

Can Ray, who has struggled with command and consistency this year -- including in Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Giants -- bounce back to help the D-backs during the second half of the 60-game regular season? And what is Ray’s value if the club makes him available heading into this year's Aug. 31 Trade Deadline?

Is Ray, who has been open about the importance of this season, feeling the pressure of his upcoming free agency?

“I am still going about my business every five days,” said Ray, who pitched out of the stretch for Friday's entire game for comfort reasons. “I’m trying to get better between each start. It’s something that I feel like I do a good job of is blocking out the noise. It’s not something I‘m really thinking about, I’m trying to go out and put up zeros to help our team win and give us a chance to win each night.”

Ray has an MLB-high 25 walks, and his five wild pitches are tied for the most in the Majors. He’s allowed 25 runs in 27 innings for an 8.33 ERA. The D-backs have lost three games in a row, and with Madison Bumgarner on the injured list, the club needs Ray to pitch better.

“From my seat, and I’ve known Robbie now for four years, he goes out there and tries to dial it up every fifth day and that’s the only thing that he’s thinking about,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “[Free agency is] a non-issue, and it doesn’t look like it’s a distraction based on what I’m seeing in the hours before the game and when I watch him walk in from the bullpen and when I watch him take the mound.”

When Ray took the mound Friday, he loaded the bases in each of the first two innings and escaped unscathed each time. But he walked Wilmer Flores with one out in the third, and Evan Longoria made him pay for it with a two-run home run (the 300th of his career) to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.

The D-backs answered with two runs in the fourth to tie the game at 4, but Flores stung Ray again in the fifth, this time with a two-run home run of his own, to push the Giants ahead, 4-2.

Ray had four full counts, and he walked each of those four batters. It’s the first time this season he walked every batter that reached a full count.

“Obviously, we’d like to get these guys to put the ball in play before we get to 3-2, but they did a great job today of fouling off pitches,” D-backs catcher Stephen Vogt said. “So, you ought to credit them a lot for making us work and having to make multiple 3-2 pitches in a lot of those at-bats. Really, the credit there is having to make a 3-2 pitch, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that a couple of times.”

Ray struck out three Giants hitters to get through the fifth inning, but the damage was done. He finished with eight strikeouts and five walks in the 101-pitch outing. He only threw 66 strikes, but he got 17 swing-and-misses, his most this season, including three on his curveball.

“I feel like today was a step forward with the curveball,” Ray said. “I was able to land it for strikes. It’s something I’ve been able to do in the past. So, just taking that as a positive, and also, when I did get ahead with that curveball, it made my other pitches better.”