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Ray's mechanical adjustment paying dividends

August 26, 2018

PHOENIX -- Robbie Ray (Bob) left his outing Saturday feeling that a small delivery tweak had provided a big step in the right direction.:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::Ray retired the last five hitters he faced, getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fourth inning and retiring

PHOENIX -- Robbie Ray (Bob) left his outing Saturday feeling that a small delivery tweak had provided a big step in the right direction.
:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::
Ray retired the last five hitters he faced, getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fourth inning and retiring the side in the fifth, seemingly hitting his stride as his pitch count reached triple digits.
D-backs Players' Weekend gear
Ray gave up only one run in five innings, but he made 104 pitches after throwing first-pitch strikes to only four of the first 16 Mariners he faced.
D-backs' nicknames for Players' Weekend
"Those last two innings I felt really good," Ray said. "I felt locked in mentally and mechanically. I'm just looking to ride that into the next start."
Ray and pitching coach Mike Butcher had been working to keep the lefty more in a straight line on his delivery, so that his plant leg faces directly toward home plate when it lands. It prevents him from throwing across his body.
"Just a small change like that makes a huge difference," Ray said. "It honestly feels fine either way, but just the result of the pitch isn't exactly where I want it to be when I close myself off."
Ray, 3-2 with a 4.73 ERA in 17 starts in a season interrupted by an oblique injury that cost him about two months, is in line to make his next start in the first game of a four-game series at the Dodgers on Thursday.
He had great success against the Dodgers last season, going 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts. Four of those were quality starts, and he struck out 53 in 31 2/3 innings.
Ray has won only once since his return June 27, but a return to form would be valuable as he D-backs face a series of playoff contenders in the final five weeks.
"The biggest thing that he is working on right now is the consistency and command and the consistency of his pitches," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
"I saw him come off the mound with his best stuff, so I'm very optimistic that as these pitchers continue to work and have had success in the past, they know what that feels like and once they get on that run, it is fun to watch."
Ray was 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA in a breakout 2017 season, when he made the All-Star team and finished seventh in Cy Young voting.
Godley working on his throws
Zack Godley (Bull) worked on throwing to the bases early Saturday, a session that was "pristine and easy," Lovullo said.
Godley made an errant throw to third base in a 6-3 loss to Seattle on Friday, the second time in a month that he appeared uncomfortable making a throw to the bases.
"Every coach is rallying around him right now to ensure that he is going to go out there and execute a game plan," Lovullo said, "and if there are limitations, we are going to find a way to take care of those.
"I think he is in a very good place. He has a plan. The results will speak for themselves."

Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com based in Phoenix.