Arizona Diamondbacks: Pitchers setting a precedent for future teams
Robbie Ray became the second Diamondbacks starter this season to reach 200 strikeouts in a season
#RayDay usually means a heavy does of strikeouts — Friday night in San Francisco was no different.
Making start No. 24 on the season, Arizona Diamondbacks left hander Robbie Ray struck out Austin Slater of the San Francisco Giants with a slow curveball in the fifth for his 200th punch out of the season.
The 24-year-old flamethrower joined Zack Greinke as the first pair of Diamondbacks starters to strikeout 200 or more batters in a single season since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002 — both the Big Unit and Shilling struck out more than 300 batters that year. Johnson and Schilling also each struck out 200-plus batters in 2001.
Ray needed just four strikeouts Friday for his second consecutive 200-strikeout season. He punched 218 in 2016 but that was over 174.1 innings.
This season, after taking a line drive off the head against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in July, Ray still has struck out 206 on the season. Talk about impressive folks!
After striking out 10 Giants on Friday, Ray recorded his fourth consecutive outing with 10 punch outs or more, which is a career high. Ray matched his previous career high of four consecutive games with 10-plus strikeouts when he struck out 12 San Diego Padres on September 10. In his start before that on September 4, he struck out 14 Dodgers.
I do not know if I have seen a starter in my lifetime make it so look so easy on the mound with basically a two-pitch mix since Johnson. Ray has been able to throw a steady diet of slow curveballs this season, which has helped keep opposing batters off balance, but he still has primarily relied on a hard fastball and his sweeping slider.
Here is Ray’s final line against the Giants: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 10 K, 2.74 ERA.
Ray picked up win No. 14 on the season and continued to make the case for CY Young votes. It looked like things could get away from him in the sixth, but he stranded runners at first and third and only allowed one run to score, despite struggling to command his fastball and slider for the first time all game.
Ray is now 5-0 in his last five starts since coming off the disabled list with 55 strikeouts and no walks.
That is Clayton Kershaw esque folks.
Last year, an inability to put away hitters with two strikes and foul balls hurt Ray. But, Robbie is one of the best at striking out opposing batters when he gets to two strikes this season. In fact, entering Friday, only Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians and Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox had struck out more hitters at a higher percentage with two strikes than the D-backs southpaw.
By the end of the season, Ray might be in the top-10 for highest strikeout percentage in a single season. Entering Friday, he had a K-rate of 12.3 per nine innings, which is a full strikeout per nine better than last season (11.3). That most certainly went up tonight.
In addition to Robbie’s milestone, D-backs pitchers, including the bullpen, have set some pretty remarkable milestones. They have already set the club record for most strikeouts in a season and there 3.58 ERA and .239 opponents batting average are the lowest marks in team history.
Seventh inning breakthrough
The D-backs offense finally broke through in the seventh inning. They had yet to do much of anything against Giants starter Jeff Samardzija.
With the Giants up 2-1, two men got on base with one out after dunk shot singles. Then A.J. Pollock continued to stay hot, delivering the big blow, a two-run double down the left field line. That gave the D-backs a 3-2 lead they would never surrender.
Pollock now has 10 RBI in his last five games after hitting .438 with eight RBI in the recently completed Rockies series.
- Archie Bradley worked another scoreless eighth and Fernando Rodney shut the door in the ninth for his 37th save.
- The Rockies won, but the D-backs lead on the first N.L. wild card spot remains at five games.
- The D-backs won their eighth consecutive road game, which tied for the second longest streak in club history with the 1999 team. The 2002 D-backs won nine straight road contests in August.
- The Diamondbacks improved to 19-41 when they score three runs or fewer this season and 33-42 when the opponent scores first.
The D-backs (86-62) go for the series win tomorrow at 6:05 p.m. with Zack Greinke on the mound against Madison Bumgarner. Read our preview by clicking here.
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