Arizona Diamondbacks: Ray cannot overcome early trouble

Robbie Ray was unable to escape a challenging first inning Sunday. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Robbie Ray was unable to escape a challenging first inning Sunday. (Harry How/Getty Images) /

A four-run first inning doomed lefty Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In a game which foreshadowed two of the top pitchers in the National League, this ended in relative disaster for both. While Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks suffered through one of his most laborious outings of the season, Stephen Strasburg, his opponent, left after two innings with soreness in his right arm.

Ray, who entered the game with an ERA under three runs per innings, agonized over a 39-pitch first inning in which he allowed four runs and five hits. Later, Ray yielded an unearned run in the third, and left after five innings, The Diamondbacks could not recover from his disastrous beginning, and fell to the Washington Nationals, 6-2 before 32,720 Sunday afternoon in Chase Field.

With the defeat, the Diamondbacks dropped their fourth series in the last five sets. The team mark, as high as 21 games above .500 (52-31 on July 2) is now 14 games (at 56-42) above the .500 mark.

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In uncharacteristic fashion for this season, Ray seemed to turn the clock to a year ago.  That when early trouble and an elevated pitch count doomed the lefty nearly from the start in several games.

Usually punctual in delivering a first-pitch strike, Ray missed the first pitch to each of the first three hitters on Sunday. That included a home run to lead-off hitter Brian Goodwin and singles to Wilmer Difo and Bryce Harper. By the time Ryan Zimmerman flied to center on a sacrifice fly, Ray was down by two. That seem to be only the beginning. That’s because Ray allowed three of the next four hitters to reach base and yielded four runs in the opening frame.

Afterward, Ray discounted to Venom Strikes that the lead-off homer by Goodwin did not upset his rhythm nor game plan.

"“I was just missing out over the plate,” he said. “They just kind of jump on the pitches. It was pretty taxing. They way I’m pitching, I’m giving up home runs. The home run to the first batter that was right down the middle. That’s a left-handed hitter, and that shouldn’t happen.”"

After that difficult opening frame, Ray settled in and allowed one unearned run for the remainder of his five-inning outing. That prompted manager Torey Lovullo to emphasize the positive, and told Venom Strikes he would concentrate on Ray’s effort after the challenging start.

"“I’ll focus on what happen after the first inning,” he said. “Robbie’s pitch execution was not strong early, and he left several pitches out over the plate.”"

Overall, Lovullo pointed out that followers of this team have come expect the unexpected from a club which continues to do things in a positive manner. When they hit a bump in the road, like dropping this weekend series to Washington, “it’s rather startling,” he said, While currently things are not falling into place, Lovullo promised, “this team will find a way to get it done in the future.”

Early exit

Strasburg came into the game with an 10-3 record and a 3.31 ERA. After walking Paul Goldschmidt with two out in the first, he then walked Gregor Blanco and Ray with two outs in the second. Then, he caught Daniel Descalso looking at a third strike.

That’s when manager Dusty Baker pulled Strasburg. Explanation was achiness in his right arm, and a malady which has bothered the righthander since All-Star game.

From the trainer’s room

On Saturday, Rubby De Rosa, during a rehab relief appearance in Triple-A Reno’s 12-8 win over Colorado Springs, threw one inning and allowed two earned runs. On the disabled list July 6 with right shoulder inflammation, the report on De La Rosa, nonetheless, was positive.

That’s according to Lovullo, who told Venom Strikes before Sunday’s game that De La Rosa “felt good and his stuff was very good.” Following routine medical procedures and check-ups, Lovullo said the organization will then decide the next step.

Outfielder J. D. Martinez, out with a bruised left hand, took batting practice in the cage before Sunday’s game, and Lovullo told Venom Strikes, the recent acquisition from the Detroit Tigers is “trending upward.” Lovullo said Martinez will likely get a start an up-coming series against the Atlanta Braves in Chase Field.

On Sunday, Martinez appeared as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, and walked.


The Braves come in for a three-game set, and that begins Monday night.

In the series opener. Righty Zack Greinke (11-4, 2.97 ERA) faces righty R. A. Dickey (8-6, 4.41).

Against Greinke, Matt Kemp is hitting .231 (6-for-26), Brandon Phillips is hitting .120 (3-for-25), Nick Markakis is hitting .288 (7-for-28), and Freddie Freeman is hitting .111 (2-for 18). Against Dickey, J. D. Martinez is hitting .357 (5-for-18) and Daniel Descalso is hitting .615 (8-for-13).

On Tuesday night, it’s Taijuan Walker (6-4, 3.61), back from paternity leave, and will face righty Mike Foltynewicz (8-5, 3.87).

Against Foltynewicz, Paul Goldschmidt is hitting 154 (2-for-13), Chris Owings is hitting .286 (4-for-14) and Jake Lamb is hitting .333 (4-for-12).

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For the series and home stand finale Wednesday afternoon, it’s lefty Patrick Corbin (7-9, 4.43) against lefty Jamie Garcia (4-7, 4.30).

Against Corbin, Phillips is hitting .250 (4-for-16), Kemp is hitting .308 (4-for 13), and Freeman is hitless in 10 at-bats.

Against Garcia, Goldschmidt is hitting 383 (5-for-13), A. J. Pollock is hitting 182 (2-for-11), and Martinez is hitting .100 (1-for-10).

These numbers are all lifetime.