Robbie Ray deals, but D-backs lose to Rangers for series split
PHOENIX — For the second time in three outings, the Diamondbacks lost a game in which their starting pitcher was dealing.
First it was in Sunday’s game that Merrill Kelly went eight innings, allowing just one run on four hits. He got the loss as Arizona fell to the Red Sox, 1-0.
Then it was Robbie Ray on Wednesday, who went five-plus innings and didn’t allow a Rangers hit until the sixth inning. He finished his day having allowed one run on two hits, a walk and ten strikeouts. Reliever Andrew Chafin proceeded to get out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam after Yoan Lopez faced two batters, and still, the efforts of Ray and Chafin weren’t enough.
The D-backs lost, 5-2, and made three errors.
“I don’t think it was one of our best efforts today,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I think there were some very good moments. I think the starting pitching, Robbie came out with some really hot stuff. I thought overall, we attacked the zone pretty well. We had 15 strikeouts. But I thought we left some runners on base, runners in scoring position. I thought we got a little over-anxious at times. We didn’t pick up the baseball the way we normally do.”
Ray now has a 1.86 ERA in his last seven starts at Chase Field, dating back to Aug. 5 of last year. Wednesday was Ray’s 17th career game with 10 or more strikeouts.
“I think with the strikeouts, the pitch count got a little elevated,” Ray said. “They put together some good ABs. But overall, I felt strong and felt really good.”
His 95-pitch, 10-punchout performance wasn’t enough to earn the win, though, despite having walked off the mound with a 1-0 lead. Lopez entered and gave up a hit to allow one of Ray’s baserunners to score, then walked a batter. That loaded the bases, paving the way for Chafin to come in and erase the no-out jam.
“I know he was between 11 and 15 pitches per inning and it was going in a very, very positive direction,” Lovullo said. “I thought we managed things well enough to keep the game very, very close, and Robbie was a part of that. I think he just ran up his pitch count a little bit in the [fifth] inning and things kind of pulled back for me, from my angle, and I thought it was time to maneuver in the bullpen.”
Ray suggested that his work as a baserunner in the previous inning may have added to him getting tired in the sixth.
“Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t try to leg out infield grounders,” Ray joked. “I started to feel it in that sixth inning, so take it easy on the bases from now on.”
After Chafin’s heroics, the game was still tied 1-1. It was a prime opportunity for the D-backs offense to take over the game, but six innings of four-hit, one run baseball by Rangers starter Lance Lynn led to two scoreless innings by the bullpen.
Meanwhile, Chafin, Archie Bradley and Matt Andriese allowed four more runs in the ensuing innings to make it 5-1 Texas.
It wasn’t until the ninth inning that the D-backs had their biggest offensive push of the evening.
Jose Leclerc, who gave up a walk-off home run to Jarrod Dyson on Tuesday, entered the game and allowed a single and hit two batters to load the bases with nobody out. After a pop-out and a walk to make it 5-2, the Rangers called on Kyle Bird to pitch.
Bird struck out Eduardo Escobar and got Peralta to line out sharply down the first-base line. Game over.
“I was proud of the guys, the way they showed up in the ninth inning, didn’t shut down,” Lovullo said. “That’s one of the great traits that this team has. I think we were a couple inches away from tying up that game. I think if it gets by the first baseman, we end up tying the score.”
Despite the bullpen allowing four runs in the game’s final three innings, it’s hard not to wonder how the game would’ve turned out differently had the D-backs bats produced more throughout the course of the game.
Ironically, twice this week the D-backs have spoiled a strong outing by a starter, despite having one of the better-ranked offenses in the league; Arizona ranks fifth in MLB in average, third in OPS, seventh in runs scored and second in extra base hits.
The D-backs are now 6-6 on the season.
The D-backs remain at Chase Field for four more games as the San Diego Padres come in for a four-game series. Thursday’s probables are right-hander Pedro Avila for the Padres and right-hander Zack Godley for the D-backs.
–Arizona called up catcher Caleb Joseph on Wednesday morning, making a corresponding move after sending pitcher Jon Duplantier to Reno on Tuesday night.
–Lefty reliever T.J. McFarland, who is on the IL, threw nine pitches in an extended spring training game on Wednesday and went to the bullpen afterwards to throw 12 more.