Arizona Diamondbacks: Ray competitive in a very competitive game

Robbie Ray has developed a strong working relationship with catcher Chris Herrmann. (Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports)
Robbie Ray has developed a strong working relationship with catcher Chris Herrmann. (Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports) /

In his last five starts, lefty Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks is 5-0 with a 0.27 ERA in that period.

This may be one matter to be locked in as lefty Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks is these days. It could be an entirely different manner when you’re locked and the game which is very much undecided.

That could be the true bench mark of Ray’s value to the Diamondbacks. Among the best in the National League in wins, strikeouts and ERA, Ray found himself in a unusually competitive battle with former Diamondback Chase Anderson Sunday afternoon. Aside from the tight pitching match-up, this game could also be a considered as a microcosm for a team which could evolve into a National League West Division contender.

While Ray dominated the mound, the Diamondbacks offense displayed the kind of potential which could leave opposing pitchers in ashes. A barrage of four homers, including a monster grand slam to center field by Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth inning, delivered a devastating calling call to contenders in the National League West Division. When you come into Chase Field, bring your “A” game or the Arizona offense will make you pay dearly.

In the end, an avalanche of late home runs help to earn an 11-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers before 30,370 in Chase Field. The win enabled the Diamondbacks to take the weekend series, and move within two games of the NL West Division-leading Rockies.

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With Ray and Zack Greinke emerging as perhaps the best one-two among starters in majors right now, the Diamondbacks also have an arsenal which can explode at any time. Despite this a 1-0 game into the seventh inning, home runs from Brandon Drury and a pair of two-run bombs from Chris Herrmann and David Peralta in the seventh alone displayed a lethal combination of superb pitching and lightning rods for bats.

Yet, the nature of a 1-0 game into the seventh clearly motivated Ray. After stretching his winning streak to five and possessing an 0.27 ERA in that period, Ray told Venom Strikes there was little room for error in a game like this one.

"As well (Anderson) was pitching, the focus for me was to get my team in the dugout as soon as possible. Sure, there is little room for error and you’re aware of that. I just wanted to end each inning as quickly as possible and get the guys back in the dugout."

After Arizona scored once in the first inning, both pitchers settled into a groove reserved for the most driven and focused.

In the seventh inning, Ray encountered a few marginal calls by plate umpire Dan Iassogna, and appeared to unravel. With two out in the frame, Ray’s 3-2 pitch to Orlando Arcia appeared to hit the black but Iassogna called a ball. After the walk, Ray walked pinch hitter Jesus Aguilar and then lifted by manager Torey Lovullo. J. J. Hoover came in and walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases. Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa entered and struck out left-handed hitting Eric Thamas to end the threat.

In the moment where Ray may have lost a few calls, Louvollo immediately became pro-active. Afraid that Ray may elevate pitches and walk into danger, Lovullo told Venom Strikes that it was time for a change.

"Dan Iassogna is a very good umpire and made the calls he did. I was fearful that Robbie might be a little frustrated and begin to elevate his pitches. When I pulled him, it was the right thing to do, and hand the game over to the bullpen."

If Ray was in control, Anderson was dominant in a critical sixth inning. With Gregor Blanco on third and one out and Arizona holding that slim 1-0 advantage, Anderson neatly painted the black to strike out Goldschmidt swinging and then overpowered Jake Lamb with a rising fast ball in a 3-2 count. That left the contest a one-run game until the Diamondbacks exploded for 10 runs over their final two at-bats.

Some history

When Paul Goldschmidt doubled with one out in the first, he reached base for the 38th consecutive game at home. That is a franchise record.

Roster moves

Prior to the game Sunday, the Diamondbacks reinstated pitcher Zack Greinke from his paternity leave. To make room on the roster, the club designated reliever Tom Wilhelmsen for assignment.

Also, the club reinstated Socrates Brito from the 60-day disabled list and optioned the outfielder to Triple-A Reno.


Following an off-day Monday, the Diamondbacks open an eight-game, three city trip. That opens in Detroit.

On Tuesday night, it’s righty Zack Grienke (8-3, 3.20 ERA) taking on righty Buck Farmer (2-0, 0.00). For Wednesday, manager Torey Lovullo remains uncertain but could lean toward Taijuan Walker, currently on the DL with a blister on his right hand. The Tigers will go with righty Michael Fulmer (6-4, 3.40).

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Then, it’s three with the Phillies in Philadelphia and the trip concludes with three against the Rockies in Denver.