Ray doesn’t miss a beat in return from IL

D-backs' ace stops skid as Arizona contends for NL Wild Card

August 25th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- At first glance, you would’ve thought it was just another start, but for Ray and the D-backs, Sunday’s start meant more than just one game in late August.

Ray’s return from the 10-day injured list couldn’t have come at a better time for Arizona after dropping three games in a row and falling further behind in the National League Wild Card race.

“To come here and get swept would not have been a good thing for us,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Today was not an easy game to gear up for and get ready to play, but that’s what good teams are able to do.”

The D-backs’ ace played stopper and may have even saved the team’s season in Arizona’s 5-2 win over the Brewers on Sunday afternoon at Miller Park. The D-backs moved to five games behind the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot.

“The fact that we won this game and salvaged a piece of it, I’m proud of these guys,” Lovullo said.”

“We didn’t get the job done and didn’t do what we needed to do,” Brewers outfielder said.

Ray showed no signs of rust out the gate as he struck out four batters over his first three innings of work. Things got dicey for Ray in the fourth inning as he loaded the bases before getting Trent Grisham to ground out to end the threat.

The Arizona southpaw tossed five innings, allowing no runs on just three hits with four walks and six strikeouts. He threw 63 of his 103 pitches for strikes, including 12 swinging strikes to earn his 11th victory of the season.

“There were some tough at-bats. Some longer at-bats and deep counts. But I was able to get out of it without getting hurt,” Ray said. “Obviously, the pitch count was high. Just got to be a little bit better. A little more focused, but overall, I feel good.”

“He doesn’t let me down very often,” Lovullo said. “He said he felt great and I trusted him. We’ve developed that trust with one another. He went out there, executed his pitches and got the win.”

The D-backs’ offense had been held in check, notching just six hits over the first two games of the series, but the bats broke out against Brewers starter . got Arizona on the board in the first inning with a 438-foot, two-run shot to give the D-backs a 2-0 lead. Walker, who went 3-for-5 in the game, finished a triple shy of the cycle to go along with his 23rd homer of the season.

Arizona would score three more runs over the next three innings and give Ray more than enough to work with.

Ray staying healthy and returning to the front of the rotation will be key if the D-backs hope to remain a legitimate contender in the NL Wild Card race.

If he gets on a roll, it could be the difference between the D-backs taking it down to the final week of the season and forcing their way into the postseason or being eliminated.

“We’re still in it, for sure. We just have to string some games together and get on a roll,” Ray said. “We’re playing the teams we need to play. The teams ahead of us, those are the teams we’re going after. We just have to take it one day at a time.”