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Arizona Diamondbacks: Walks, early runs allowed dominate Ray’s poor outing

By Mark Brown
Robbie Ray recorded his first complete game and shutout against the Pirates Tuesday night. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Robbie Ray recorded his first complete game and shutout against the Pirates Tuesday night. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Left-hander Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks could last past the fifth inning.

Walks are pitchers’ poison. Just ask left-hander Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks. For a pitcher which needs pitch economy and execution to make his life easier, Ray’s lack of control in critical areas doomed his effort Tuesday night.

Lead-off walks in the first and fifth inning, in which both scored, proved fatal in an eventual defeat 7-3 to the Detroit Tigers before 20,445 Tuesday night in Chase Field. Overall, Ray walked five hitters in five innings of work and those five tied a season-high mark. Ray also walked five in San Francisco on April 11. Afterward, Ray told Venom Strikes that control was clearly the issue.

"Walked too many. They’re an aggressive hitting team and they make you pay. Look, this was just another game and that’s the beauty of this game. You play 162, come out the next day and grind it out."

Not only were the walks an area of concern but a corresponding issue resulted. That would be an elevated pith count.

Ray has been notorious for running up pitch counts and by the time he exited in this one, the native of Brentwood, Tenn. threw 98 pitches, 56 for strikes. That was in only five innings of work and manager Torey Lovullo immediately pulled out the hook. Ray did not go for the sixth and settled for a marginal performance at best. Lovullo then took time and described to Venom Strikes the essence of a frustrating night.

"Not Robbie’s best game. He was spraying his fast ball around the zone and they waited him out. The walks are easy to see, and they just come out you. There’s no mystery to this. You need to keep guys off the bases. We didn’t do that."

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If walks doomed Ray, then pitch location at a critical time was another reason for his demise Tuesday night. With the score tied at three and the bases loaded with two out in the Detroit fifth, Ray allowed a single up the middle to Mikie Mahtook, two RBIs and an end of Ray’s night. Later, Ray told Venom Strikes that the pitch was in a bad spot to Mahtook, who was hitting .182 coming into the game.

"I left a curve up and over the plate. That was the pitch he was looking for and he sent it up the middle. I made a couple of pitches in that inning that got me."

The Diamondbacks had an opportunity to respond. Down by two in the bottom of the seventh, reliever Shane Greene struck out Yasmany Tomas with the bases loaded. After former Diamondback Justin Upton homered with one out in the eighth, the Tigers added a single run in the ninth. That’s when reliever Jorge De La Rosa walked Nick Castellanos with the bases loaded and effectively ended the Diamondbacks night.

Another injury

Reliever T. J. McFarland was hit on the right shin with a rocket off the bat of catcher James McCann in the sixth inning.

McFarland just entered the game in relief of starter Robbie Ray, and left the game immediately after facing only McCann. Following the contest, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes that the team will wait until the morning to further assess McFarland.

"There was no break, so that’s positive. We’ll see how he responds to treatment and how he feels (Wednesday)."

If the injury is serious, the Diamondbacks could place McFarland on the disabled list and make room on the 25-man roster for Zack Godley, the Arizona starter for Wednesday night’s game against the Tigers.

Next

The brief two-game set with the Detroit Tigers concludes Wednesday night. Right-hander Zack Godley gets his second start of the season and draws Tigers’ lefty Matthew Boyd (2-2, 3.78 ERA) as his mound opponent.

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Then, the Pittsburgh Pirates roll into the desert for a four-game, weekend set. In the opener Thursday night, look for righty Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.09 ERA) to take on righty Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.14) The teams then engage Friday and Saturday nights and conclude with Mother’s Day matinee on Sunday.

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