D-backs’ Ray has strong showing despite allowing pair of homers
PHOENIX — All the sights — and sounds — of a strong Robbie Ray start were present on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
There were loud grunts from Ray, “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd and a stat sheet stuffed with strikeouts.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t avoid the big hit.
Ray struck out eight batters in 3.2 innings, but allowed a pair of home runs to the defending NL Central champions.
The long balls were the only flaws in an otherwise dominant start from the D-backs’ top lefty.
“I felt good,” Ray said on Wednesday. “Felt like the ball was coming out good. You know, my curveball and slider were sharp today.
“Fastball command was right where I wanted it to be, so overall a really good day.”
Ray mostly made quick work of a Brewers lineup that included reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames.
He faced Yelich twice and struck him out on three pitches in his second at-bat.
Shaw and Thames were strikeout victims in their first at-bats and Ray made Brewers No. 1 prospect Keston Hiura look silly on a four-pitch strikeout.
At one point, Ray recorded seven outs in a row by strikeout.
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But it was the home runs that sullied the start.
Catcher Erik Kratz took Ray deep on a two-out, two-strike pitch in the second inning.
Thames dinged him in the third inning with two outs, smoking a two-run moon shot to right field that ended his afternoon.
“The first one honestly I don’t know if that ball should have got out,” Ray said. “Wind was blowing out and it was off the end of the bat a little bit.
“Second one was a pitch right down the middle and I was challenging [Thames] 2-0.”
Even so, it was a mostly positive start for Ray.
He didn’t walk a batter, threw 39 of his 57 pitches for strikes and threw first-pitch strikes to nine of the 14 batters he faced.
“It was just one of those days where everything was working,” Ray said.
Ray’s fastball touched 95 mph and he was able to get strikeouts with both his fastball and off-speed pitches.
Plus, it was a noted improvement from Ray’s first start of the spring, when he was “feeling off a little physically.”
The Brewers won the game, 5-4.
“The arm feels good, body feels good,” Ray said. “I feel like my timing was great. So yeah, felt very good.”
– Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. hasn’t hit well this spring, but clubbed his second home run of the spring against presumed Brewers opening day starter Jhoulys Chacin in the first inning. Much like his first home run of the spring, it came on a two-strike count.
– Outfielder David Peralta finally recorded his first RBI of spring training. Peralta laced an RBI double in the fourth inning to score Eduardo Escobar.