NLDS Game 2 Notes: Torey Lovullo says Robbie Ray should be ‘wide open’

Oct 7, 2017, 5:13 PM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

LOS ANGELES — It can be funny when you try to judge the importance of individual games within a postseason baseball series.

In a best-of-five scenario, the lower-seeded team’s goal is to earn a split on the road in the first two games. If the road team wins Game 1, their level of urgency might diminish heading into Game 2.

For the Arizona Diamondbacks, losers of Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers Friday night, it means that Game 2 is huge.

“The way I looked at it was (Friday) was the most important game of the series,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “And (Saturday), the one we’re playing right now is the most important game of the series.”

To earn a split, one thing is for certain: the Diamondbacks have to play better baseball. First and foremost, they need a better effort from the starting pitcher, which for Game 2, is 15-game winner and National League All-Star Robbie Ray.

Ray is making his first big-league postseason start, but got a taste of pressure baseball Wednesday night when he pitched 2.1 innings out of the Arizona bullpen in a Wild Card win over the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field.

His team and his manager have all the confidence in the world in him.

“We feel really confident every time Robbie takes the mound, and he’s earned that,” Lovullo said.

“He was an All-Star. He’s one of the best pitchers in the league as far as I’m concerned. The record, the earned run average will bear that out as well. So we feel very comfortable with Robbie throwing for us tonight.”

And just because Ray has thrown 57 pitches in two outings over the last seven days, the D-backs expect him to be his normal self.

“We feel like he’s going to be wide open and throwing as many pitches as he normally has,” Lovullo said.

Both Arizona playoff games have been affected by short outings by starting pitchers. Zack Greinke lasted only 3.2 innings in the Wild Card Game and Taijuan Walker labored through a painful first inning Friday night.

If that history were to repeat itself Saturday, and Lovullo needed length out of the bullpen, he wouldn’t hesitate to tab presumed Game 4 starter Patrick Corbin to work out of the pen in Game 2.

“Yeah, if Patrick is needed tonight, we’ll run him down to the bullpen and he’ll throw in the bullpen (Saturday),” Lovullo said. “So we’re just piecing this thing together.”

New-look lineup: The D-backs are switching up their lineup against Dodgers starter Rich Hill in Game 2. Despite Hill being left-handed, Lovullo has three lefty hitters in his lineup, including second baseman Daniel Descalso and third baseman Jake Lamb, who were on the bench in Game 1 against southpaw Clayton Kershaw.

Lovullo is making the switch because lefties actually hit better against Hill than righties.

“I’m aware of the reverse split factor with Rich Hill, and he’s a quality pitcher,” he said. “We’re going to look for any type of advantage that we can possibly get.”

Lamb, specifically, has struggled against left-handers in 2017. But in a small sample size, he’s been good against Hill, going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI.

Hill, 37, went 12-8 this season, but three of those losses came against the D-backs.

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NLDS Game 2 Notes: Torey Lovullo says Robbie Ray should be ‘wide open’