Arizona Diamondbacks – Ray overcomes shaky start, gains win

Robbie Ray ( Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Robbie Ray ( Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /

Left-hander Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks became the four pitcher in franchise history to strike out 200 or more batters in one season

For Robbie Ray, a left-hander for the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was not the start, but the finish.

Laboring through a difficult first inning, Ray withstood a 32-pitch inning and three runs by the Colorado Rockies. Quickly, he turned fortunes around. In turn, his Diamondbacks’ teammates picked up the hard-throwing lefty, and countered with four in the bottom of the frame. From that challenging opening inning, Ray settled down, and allowed only three base runners during his final four innings.

If lack of support haunted Ray in earlier starts, the Diamondbacks unloaded a group of lethal bats in this one, and proceeded to hammer the Colorado Rockies, 11-4 before 20,897 in Chase Field. The win was the second straight for Arizona and only the third time the team gained back-to-back wins since compiling a three-game winning streak Aug. 9-11.

In gaining his third win in his last six starts (two losses, one no-decision), Ray was able to shake off maladies in the opening frame, and leave with a positive feeling.

“I felt good, but thought I had some tough luck,” he said. “When I came back out, I wanted to slow the game down, and thought I was able to do that.”

While manager Chip Hale indicated “the first inning was not very easy, and like a punch in the mouth,” Ray was able to withstand the early Colorado barrage and come away with his eighth win of the season.

In the effort, the native of Brentwood, Tenn. fanned seven, and brought his season strikeout total to 202. With that number, Ray became the fourth pitcher in franchise history to record 200 or more strikeouts in a single season. With three possible starts remaining, Ray will likely pass Dan Haren, who recorded 206 strikeouts in the 2008 season. Haren also fanned 223 hitters in the 2009 season. Here, Ray has an opportunity to move into eight place for the most strikeouts in a single season. Randy Johnson holds the franchise mark with 364 Ks in 1999.

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“I knew I was close (to 200),” Ray added. “It’s a great accomplishment, and not many guys did this. To be in the same company of great pitchers is very humbling.”

If Ray recovered to give the Diamondbacks four strong innings after a shaky start, the offense clearly picked him up with an 11-run, 17 hit attack.

The offense was keyed by a pair of homers from Jean Segura and a solo shot by Brandon Drury. In the opening two games of this series, the Diamondbacks feasted on a weak Colorado staff, scored 26 runs and collected 33 hits.

Even with 11 runs, the Diamondbacks still left 13 runners on base.

Yasmany Tomas, Paul Goldschmidt and Segura led the attack with three hits each, and Tomas, along with Segura, scored two runs each.

In the process, the Diamondbacks became the first team since the 1930 Brooklyn Robins to record 10 or more hits in 13 or more consecutive games against a single opponent in a single season. Brooklyn accomplished their feat against the Philadelphia Phillies.

On deck

The current series with the Rockies concludes Wednesday night. Look for right-hander Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 4.17) to take on right-hander Jeff Hoffman (0-3, 5.00). For this game, De La Rosa is on a pitch count not to exceed 60 pitches. Realistically, said manager Chip Hale, De La Rosa will likely throw around 45 to 50 pitches. Righty Braden Shipley is expected to follow De La Rosa to the mound.

Next: Tomas records first career grand slam

Then, the National League West Division race comes to Chase Field. The Los Angeles Dodgers are in for four. In the opener Thursday night, it’s right-hander Archie Bradley (6-9, 5.10) opposing righty Rich Hill (12-3, 1.80). The series then concludes with games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.