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Snake Bytes, 8/25: Wild-card hopes Ray-sed

The return of Robbie Ray went about as well as anyone could possibly have hoped.

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Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


[MLB] D-backs' Robbie Ray strong vs. Mets - The time between starts felt long. The first inning back went by fast -- strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. "That's about as good as a first inning could go," Ray said Thursday. Pitching in the Major Leagues for the first time since he was struck on the head by a Luke Voit line drive July 28 in St. Louis, Ray allowed just two hits and struck out nine in five innings. He allowed a long home run to Yoenis Cespedes and threw a few more pitches than he would have liked (94), but all in all this was a start worth waiting for. "It just felt like another game," he said. "Like I've said through the whole process, there haven't been any issues getting back on the mound."

[AP] Diamondbacks take Mets series in Robbie Ray's return - Sporting a small scar just above his temple, the All-Star left-hander struck out the side in the first and held New York hitless for three innings. “It’s good to have Robbie back. There’s that old familiar feeling that he was giving every one of us, just pounding the zone,” Lovullo said. “We really loved everything that he did. We welcome him back with open arms.” In the fourth inning, Amed Rosario’s hard-hit grounder bounced off Ray’s left leg. He quickly gathered himself, picked up the ball and fired to first for the out. Lovullo and Arizona’s trainer sprinted out of the dugout to check on their pitcher, at which point Ray threw a couple of warmup pitches and continued with the game. “I think we were all kind of holding our breath,” Lovullo said.

[AZ Central] Bradley carried bigger load vs. Mets - “I maybe extended him a little bit more than we’d want to, but we’re at that point in the season when we’ve got to win games,” Lovullo said. “It was two innings today and an inning and two-thirds a couple of days ago, but they’re both wins and that’s the bottom line.” Bradley said his arm has bounced back well all season from his outings, but he wasn’t sure how much the extra work might change the number of days off he needs between appearances. “I’ve been very on top of my treatment and our trainers do a great job,” Bradley said. “But I’ll come to the yard tomorrow, see how it feels, get the work done that’s needed. And it’s communication. I’ll talk with (Lovullo), let him know how I’m feeling and go from there.”

Team news

[The Ringer] Archie Bradley Doesn’t Want to Be the Best Reliever in Baseball—but He Is - Over the past six months [his beard has] grown from the kind of facial hair you need if people are going to take your bluegrass cover band seriously into a gigantic forsythia bush. Bradley’s beard is now roughly the size, shape, and color as the Pyramid of Cheops, reaching down from his jaw nearly to his collar in an exquisitely groomed trapezoid—a shape Bradley says he trusts one barber, and one barber only, to maintain.

[NY Times] Diamondbacks Focus on a Wild Card and How Far It Could Take Them - When asked if he tracks the West standings any longer, pitcher Archie Bradley laughed. “There’s no point now,” he said. “Not that we’re giving up, but you have to be realistic about where you’re at. I think the wild-card is where we’re at. So it’s about focusing and us trying to play the best baseball we can, and feel really secure and feel safe about where we are in that wild-card race.”

[Arizona Sports] Hall: D-backs still in great position to make playoffs - Given their struggles at the plate, in the field and on the mound, do the D-backs need anger in the clubhouse? Hall does not believe that would help his team’s performance. “I don’t think so because that is not the personality of the team,” Hall said. “It wouldn’t be effective and it wouldn’t be genuine and you certainly didn’t need that the first two-and-a-half, three months of the season when they were playing great together. They just have to stay together to get through it. We have good players on this team and we’re going to be getting guys back.”

[AZ Central] Nick Ahmed’s impending return to create options for Diamondbacks - When Ahmed does make it back, it will again free up Lovullo to use his middle infielders’ flexibility to play favorable matchups, similar to the way he did before Chris Owings went down with a hand injury of his own. In this case, Lovullo should be able to bounce Ketel Marte between shortstop and second base. Asked if he expects to have Marte start taking ground balls as second, Lovullo said the team hasn't gotten that far in its thinking. “We’ll want to create some diversity when Nick comes back,” he said. “So we’re certainly going to explore that option and we’re going to work through it as a group in the next couple of days.”

[Arizona Sports] Diamondbacks' offensive struggles in August: By the Numbers - 8: That is the total number of bases the D-backs have swiped as a team in August, tied for the third fewest in the NL with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In April, manager Torey Lovullo’s ball club stole the most bags (32) in the NL. But their stolen base production has declined in every month since. Arizona simply has not got runners on base at the same rate. Their .305 on-base percentage so far in August is their lowest of any month this season.

[MLB] Breakdown of D-backs' Players Weekend names - J.D. Martinez: "Flaco". Martinez says that when he was 10 years old, he was "like a stick figure." His mentor, Paul Casanova, gave him the nickname, which is Spanish for "Thin." Martinez is wearing the name in tribute to Casanova, who passed away. Fernando Rodney: "Benjamin". Rather than use a nickname, Rodney chose to wear his late father's middle name as a tribute. "I just want to keep it fresh," he said.

And, elsewhere

[Yahoo] Miguel Cabrera throws punch at Yankees catcher as wild brawl erupts - If you needed a fight before Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match, the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees gave it to you Thursday afternoon. Benches cleared and punches were thrown in the bottom of the sixth inning in Detroit as Tigers star Miguel Cabrera tussled with Yankees catcher Austin Romine. It was the start of a long afternoon of hit-by-pitches, ejections and the benches clearing. Eight players and coaches were ejected in the game, which the Tigers would eventually win 10-6.

[MLB] 7 strangely specific MLB rules and the even stranger stories that inspired them | - Rule 6.04(c): No fielder shall take a position in the batter's line of vision, and with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter. During one of his at-bats against the New York Giants on August 9, 1950, Boston Braves third baseman Bob Elliott requested that the second base umpire shift his positioning slightly -- the ump was in Elliott's line of vision, making it difficult for him to pick up the baseball. Where most would see a simple professional courtesy, however, New York second baseman Eddie Stanky saw an opportunity: Before the next pitch, he strode over to where the umpire had been standing and began doing jumping jacks.