It’s games like this which make the case that the Arizona Diamondbacks could turn out to be a truly dangerous opponent in a short series. As the adage goes, pitching and defense wins games. Well, the Diamondbacks have those skills in spades. But then, every once in a while, they show that they still have the ability to score as well. Over the next month of play, that offensive ability is going to be put to the test. The time for allowing struggling players work through difficulties at the plate is quickly coming to an end.
The first inning of this game was the beginning and the end of the good news for the Padres. The Diamondbacks managed a walk in the top of the first, but were held in check otherwise. Then, Robbie Ray took the mound, looking to build on his recent streak of impressive outings. Things did not start off so hot for the power lefty. After striking out Tommy Pham to start things off, Ray then walked Yasiel Puig on four pitches. Fernando Tatis Jr. then hit a ball into the left field corner that bounced around a bit for a double, allowing Puig to come around and score. In a bit of heads-up running, Tatis took third on the throw home that was nowhere near in time to get Puig. Eric Hosmer then hit a routine grounder to Ketel Marte. Tatis, scored on the play, putting the Friars up by two. Jurickson Profar then lifted a ball into shallow center field for the third out.
That bit of first inning action was all there was to speak of through the front five innings of play. At the end of five, it seemed that Garrett Richards was going to be the beneficiary of a rocky Ray first. Richards mastered the Arizona lineup, reviving the now tiresome narrative that Arizona’s lineup simply does not have the horses to compete. Meanwhile, Robbie Ray pitched angry. It’s no secret that Ray wears his emotions on his sleeve a it too much. The more Arizona failed to find success against Richards, the angrier Ray pitched against the Padres. This resulted in nine more strikeouts in innings two through five. What really sticks out in that stretch is that he had one two-ball count, one three-ball count (to Richards of all hitters - he struck out), and one walk (to Tatis). No one else ever saw more than ball one. Many hitters were retired with no balls in the count.
Despite cruising along, Richards did not return to the mound in the sixth inning. In the postgame interview, it was revealed that Richards had rolled his ankle fielding a Robbie Ray grounder in the top of the fifth. Pitching to the next two batters, Richards experienced some discomfort in landing on that ankle. He is now listed as day-to-day. That bit of bad luck for the Padres was all Arizona needed.
Craig Stammen came on to pitch the sixth inning. He started off by making quick work of David Peralta. Ketel Marte then stroked a single. He was brought home on a big fly by Christian Walker. Tie game. Not wanting to let up on the pressure, Josh Rojas followed with a solo shot of his own. Just like that, the Diamondbacks were up by a run. Ray seemed to like what he saw. It took the lefty only six pitches to retire the Padres in the sixth.
After the Diamondbacks squandered a lead-off double in the seventh, Ray returned to the mound with that chip on his shoulder. It was another perfect inning for Ray, punctuated by two more strikeouts, giving him 12 for the game. Kevin Ginkel came on in relief for the eighth inning. He too pitched a clean frame, setting things up for Bradley to pitch the ninth.
The Diamondbacks went to work again in the ninth inning. Nick Ahmed drew a nine-pitch walk from Matt Strahm. Stephen Vogt, doing pinch-hitting duty, doubled to right center. Ahmed held up at third as the Padres got the ball back in quickly. It didn’t matter though. On the very next pitch, Starling Marte sent the ball 424 feet to straight-away center with an exit velocity of 113.1 mph. That put the Diamondbacks up by four. Having faced his minimum tree batters, Strahm was pulled from the game. Michael Baez then came in and used seven pitches to record three outs.
No longer a save situation, Virtual Torey Lovullo gave Bradley the night off. Héctor Rondón came out and pitched another scoreless frame.
Final Score: AZ 6 - SD 2
The player of the game was Robbie Ray. The lefty bolstered his standing among the better pitchers of the 2020 season with his seven innings of two-run baseball that was punctuated by a resounding 12 strikeouts.
The Diamondbacks will be back home tomorrow to take on the Detroit Tigers, Madison Bumgarner facing off against Matt Manning.