SAN FRANCISCO – Maybe Robbie Ray is the one Diamondbacks pitcher who bends but does not break. Then again, the left-hander may just be living on the edge, and waiting to break on through to the other side.
Ray has been somewhat of an enigma, and while manager Chip Hale may not go quite that far, there is an inconsistency about Ray when tends to haunt the organization. While Hale thought Ray conquered his twin dilemma of throwing a first pitch strike and lowering his pitch count in spring training, the championship season has been another question.
In his three starts to date, Ray continues with a high pitch in his starts. In the process, he lasted six innings in his initial start of the season and into the seventh on his second outing. On Tuesday night against the Giants, Ray raised the bar, and turned in his best effort of the season. While his change was effective and he threw the pitch for strikes at critical times, Ray lasted a strong six innings, and gained his first win of the season.
Highlighted by a three-run rally in the fifth, the Diamondbacks defeated the Giants, 3-0 before 41,218 at AT&T Park. The combination of Ray, along with relievers Andrew Chafin, Evan Marshall and Tyler Clippard help record the Diamondbacks’ first shut-out of the season. In the process, Arizona extended its season-high winning streak to three games, and has Zack Grienke going Wednesday to try and extend winning ways.
While Ray lowered his season ERA to a sparkling 1.96, he, quietly and subtlety, showed strong mound command and presence. Though his pitch count was high in the early innings, and reached 88 after five innings, he was most effective in the fifth. Holding to that 3-0 lead, the Giants put runners on first and third with one out. Ray reached deep to strike out Buster Posey on a nasty curve down and in, and then retired Hunter Pence on a grounder to short.
“It’s a combination throwing of the curve and slider for strikes,” Ray said afterward. “I’m just thinking about getting that hitter out, and not worrying about anything ahead.”
For the win, the Diamondbacks rode Ray’s coattails. In the three-spot fifth inning, Giants’ starter Matt Cain, who threw a perfect game in this ball park against Houston back on June 13, 2012, had a no-hitter into the fifth. Chris Owings led off the frame with a double to the gap in left-center, Ray sacrificed Owings to third and Owings scored on single to left off the bat of Jean Segura. Jake Lamb then drove Segura in with a triple and Paul Goldschmidt closed the scoring with a sacrifice fly to the right.
Despite Cain’s no-hitter into the fifth, the Diamondbacks believed this was a matter of time until they reached the right-hander. Through the first four innings, Cain threw 73 pitches, and walked four hitters.
“We put some good at-bats on him before we scored,” said Owings, who chipped in with a 2-for-3 night, one run scored and a walk. “Guys were getting on base, and continued to get good at-bats.”
With the shut-out, the Giants were held scoreless for the first time this season. As well, the Diamondbacks have managed to white-wash the Giants in six of their last 12 games at AT&T Park.
THE ROAD TRIP NEARS AN END
With two games left on the current trip, the Diamondbacks end their current road odyssey with two more against the Giants. In a marquee match-up Wednesday night, Zack Grienke (0-2, 6.75 ERA) takes on Madison Bumgarner (1-1, 4.50 ERA).
The trip end at AT&T Park with a Thursday matinee. Right-hander Shelby Miller (0-2, 8.53 ERA) matches up with righty Johnny Cueto (3-0, 3.38 ERA). The Diamondbacks then return to Chase Field for a 10-game home stand that features the Pirates, Cardinals and Rockies.