Lots of questions were brought up after Robbie Ray’s last start against the Rockies. His velocity was down, averaging 92mph and topping out at 95 on the day. He was noticeably hittable, giving up 3 homers with 2 of those coming from lefties. What better way to test yourself than against a Cardinals team in their home opener?
While Ray was still in the low to mid 90’s with his fastball in the first couple of innings, and struggled to consistently throw strikes, he came out and effectively pitched to contact, allowing his excellent defense to make plays behind him.
He sent the Cardinals down in order in the 1st but ran into trouble in the 2nd, allowing a leadoff single to Marcell Ozuna and a walk to Jose Martinez to put a runner in scoring position. But Ray got out of the jam, getting a lineout from Molina and back to back strikeouts to escape the threat.
The offense jumped on Adam Wainwright in the 2nd with runs to stake Ray to an early cushion. Daniel Descalso walked, and after Alex Avila struck out, Chris Owings hit a hard ball to the wall in left putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. The Cardinals walked Dyson to load the bases and Ray helped himself, lining a hard drive to center to drive home a run 1-0 D-backs. Peralta stepped up with 2 outs and singled to right, driving home Owings from 2nd, 2-0 D-backs. As it turns out, that’s all the offense the team would need on this night.
The offense added their final run of the game in the 4th, with Owings singling and moving to 2nd after Ray sacrificed him over to scoring position with two outs. Peralta again came up clutch, doubling to right to score Owings and giving them a 3-0 lead.
Robbie Ray continued to cruise, albeit wildly. The 3rd was another 1-2-3 inning before running into trouble in the 4th. He allowed two walks to put another runner in scoring position and the Cardinals made him pay, with Molina doubling home Matt Carpenter to cut the lead to 3-1. But that was all the Cardinals would score, with Ray striking out Dejong and Munoz to get out of the inning with little damage.
Over the next two innings, Ray walked two other batters and that was it. His day ended after that 6th inning, with him giving up 1 run on just 2 hits and 5 walks. He struck out 9. While his velocity was still in that low 90’s range, he was able to fight through the wildness and made pitches when he needed to.
The bullpen picked up right where Robbie left off, with Yoshihira Hirano, Andrew Chafin, Archie Bradley and Brad Boxburger pitching a perfect last 3 innings, with each of them grabbing a single strike out. With a team as dangerous as the Cardinals, not allowing them to gain any momentum was huge, especially with the opposition shutting down the offense themselves.
☆☆☆ - Robbie Ray (6IP, 2H, 9Ks) +26.0% WPA
☆☆ - David Peralta (2 for 3, BB, 2B, 2RBI) +21.5% WPA
☆ - Alex Avila (0 for 5, 4Ks) -12.7% WPA
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Great showing for a fairly early game, with the 4:30PM start time after the Cardinals had their Opening home game festivities, as 39 of ya’ll combined for close to 800 comments. Good job Jackwriter to lead the pack with 78 comments. Comment of the thread goes to preston.salisbury with a very astute observation.
Tomorrow is a well earned off-day for this 6-1 team. They pick up right where they left off on Saturday with the 11:15am start time. Stick around and talk about the only winning team in the Valley of the Sun :)