Left-hander Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks suffered his first loss of the season Friday night.
Manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks likes to describe a player’s baseball education as “a process.” For lefty Robbie Ray, his journey seems to be filled with more challenges and questions.
High pitch counts plagued Ray in the past and present, and prevented the native of Brentwood, Tenn. from going consistently deep into games. Among National League strikeout leaders last season and coming to spring training ready to address the nagging issue of high pitch counts, Ray seemed to settle into a comfortable pattern.
Still, his start at home Friday night against the Colorado Rockies appeared as a microcosm of the “process” of which Lovullo likes to cite. Shaky through the early innings, Ray displayed that high pitch count and fell behind hitters.
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At the end of the third inning, he tossed 50 pitches and was down 2-0. Then, Ray began to pound the strike zone and retired, at one point, 11 of 12 hitters from the third to the sixth. Still, the Diamondbacks could not pick him up, and dropped a 3-1 decision to the Rockies before 19,300 in Chase Field.
With the victory, the Rockies leap-frogged over the Diamondbacks and back into first place by one-half game over Arizona in the National League West Division. The teams have two games remaining in this weekend series.
While Ray may have struggled early, he was dominating during the middle innings. Afterward, Ray told Venom Strikes was a clear reason for his recovery.
"As the game went on, I had a better feel for my pitches. Sometimes, that will happen. I had a little more feel later in the game."
Ray’s catcher Chris Iannetta agreed. Where Ray’s pitch up was up and execution marginal early, the lefty strike-out artist proceeded to elevate his game. Iannetta told Venom Strikes that Ray’s handle for his pitches represents a key element to ultimate success in the game.
"For teams to win, you have to have good pitching and good defense. Look at the teams which have won the World Series in recent years They all had strong pitching and strong defense. For us to play important games in August and September, we’ll need good pitching and good defense."
Against Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland, the Diamondbacks could do little. Shutting Arizona down on six hits, Freeland allowed the only run in the third. That’s when Paul Goldschmidt drove in A. J. Pollock with a two-run single. From that point, the Diamondbacks managed only four base runners, a scattering of three hits and one walk, over the final 6.1 innings.
Through the weekend, the Rockies series continues. On Saturday, look for righty Zack Grienke (2-2, 2.93 ERA) to go against lefty Tyler Anderson (1-3, 7.11). In the series and home stand finale, lefty Patrick Corbin (2-3, 3.10) takes on righty German Marquez (0-1, 8.00).
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Then, it’s off to Washington for three and three more with the Rockies in Denver next weekend. The Diamondbacks return home Tuesday May 9 to face the Detroit Tigers.