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Robbie Ray gets no-decision in nine-strikeout performance

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Robbie Ray throws to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, March 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Arizona Diamondbacks took the field in Los Angeles Friday night for a matchup with the division rival Dodgers.

Robbie Ray took the mound for the Snakes looking to rebound from not only the 12-5 Opening Day loss, but a 2018 season that did not go quite as planned compared to his 2017 campaign.

In 2017, the left-hander went 15-5 to go along with a 2.89 ERA and 218 strikeouts (both 4th in NL) in 162 innings pitched. His 12.1 SO/9 led the NL on his way to an All-Star year that saw Ray finish seventh in NL Cy Young Award voting.

However, the 27-year-old followed his career year by going 6-2 with a 3.93 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 123.2 innings pitched. Ray also spent some time on the disabled list with an oblique injury that saw him miss all of May and almost all of June.

The D-backs’ number two starter’s career Achilles heel has been walks. Ray has finished seventh in the NL in walks allowed three years in a row with 71, 71 and 70 in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

The amount of base on balls by Ray is a concern not only for the team’s sake, but also for his pitch count, as the lefty already has a high pitch count being a strikeout pitcher.

Ray came into Friday night’s game following a decent spring in which he had a 3.86 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched, giving him an astounding 17.6 SO/9 on the 2019 Cactus League campaign.

History was on the lefty’s side in Los Angeles, though, as the 27-year-old came into his 2019 season debut with a 3-0 record, 1.47 ERA, .182 opponent batting average, 53 strikeouts and 15.55 SO/9 in his last five starts against the Dodgers.

Ray struck out nine and allowed just three hits in his outing, but his five walks allowed for the Dodgers to score three earned runs, causing Torey Lovullo to make a pitching change after throwing 102 pitches in five innings. Ray was only able to throw eight first-pitch strikes in the 23 batters he faced, but he did manage to make LA batters swing and miss 14 times.

All three of Ray’s runs allowed came from former D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock, as he followed a solo home run in the bottom of the 2nd inning with a two-RBI single in the 3rd.

Ray had a solid showing in his 2019 debut, and although he may not have had the same quality performance he’s had in the past against the Dodgers, he did finish one inning short of a quality start that allowed the Snakes to tie the game on a Christian Walker three-run home run in the top of the 7th inning, thus giving Ray the no-decision.

The D-backs went on to win 5-4 in 13 innings over in what would prove to be the longest game in Dodger Stadium regular season history at 6:05.

Barring injury or a Lovullo starting rotation change, Ray is scheduled to pitch next on April 3 against the Padres in San Diego.

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