Arizona Diamondbacks: Ray’s bat, arm stops Phillies

Robbie Ray doubles in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Chase Field. (Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports)
Robbie Ray doubles in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Chase Field. (Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports) /

Lefty Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks improved his season mark to 8-3 with his sixth straight victory.

For most of this season, lefty Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks has kept his team in games with his arm. Now, Ray has shown another dimension of his game and why he continues to demonstrate value.

Emerging as a productive hitting pitcher, Ray is, in the popular notion, not an automatic out, and confirmed that aspect of his game in a critical situation on in his latest outing. Coming into his start Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies, Ray was hitting .233 and chose a timely moment to pick up his second double of the season.

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His one-out, two-bagger in the fifth led to the go-ahead run, and the Diamondbacks roared back to their winning ways with a 9-2 victory over the Phillies before 40,557. In the process, Ray extended his winning streak to six and that includes two no-decisions.

Though not as sharp as in a blistering space, in which the lefty posted a 5-0 record and 1.06 ERA in his last six starts, Ray had enough in the tank to increase his season mark to 8-3. Afterward, Ray told Venom Strikes that he had a specific game plan against the Phillies.

"“They’re a very good fast ball team, and so I wanted to mix it up,” he said. “I thought my fast ball command was better than last time and, at the same time, wanted to keep the ball away from them.”"

The one roadblock in another stellar effort was a bump in the Phillies fourth. With two out, Ray walked Cameron Rupp, the number eight hitter, and promptly surrendered a two-run homer to Ben Lively, his opposing pitcher. That put the Phillies ahead 2-1, but the Diamondbacks tied this one during their half of the fourth inning.

Then in the fifth, Ray lifted a fly over the head of centerfielder Obubel Herrera and scored on a single from David Peralta. That increased his season batting average to .250 and Ray is developing his own lobby effort to swing the bat. That incentive began last weekend in Philadelphia. That’s when Ray had a bunt sign from manager Torey Luvullo and told Venom Strikes that he wanted to swing.

"“It was a bunt situation, but I told (Lovullo) that I can handle this.” Ray said. “On the double, I put a good swing in it and that got us going.”"

From there, the Diamondbacks scored six unanswered runs and ran their season mark to 47-28. Afterward, Lovullo pointed out to Venom Strikes the importance of coming back strong from Friday’s 6-1 defeat.

"“That was a much-needed win,” he said. “Nice what the players did after a tough loss (Friday night). You never predict a pitcher will hit a two-run homer and we responded.”"

In the seventh, Ray seem to hit the wall. With a 6-2 lead at that point, the Phillies loaded the bases with one out. That’s when Lovullo went to Archie Bradley, who retired Aaron Altherr on a grounder in which Jake Lamb cut down Daniel Nava at the plate and then struck out Tommy Joseph.

From there, the Diamondbacks tacked on a three-spot in the eighth and Rey Fuentes closed this game with a leaping catch against the center field fence to rob Cameron Perkins of extra bases.


The Phillies series continue Sunday. That’s when Randall Delgado (1-1, 3.48 ERA) takes to the hill and draws former Diamondback Jeremy Hellickson (5-5, 4.61) as his mound opponent. The set concludes with a Monday afternoon game which features Zack Greinke (8-4, 3.14) and Phillies’ rookie Nick Pivetta (1-3, 4.46).

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The St. Louis Cardinals, for three, and the Colorado Rockies, for three next weekend, conclude the current home stand.