The Diamondbacks opened a short, two-game series against the Royals in Kansas City by sending the team’s ace, Robbie Ray up against their former farmhand, Brad Keller. Keller started out looking strong. He struck out the first batter of the game, Brandon Marsh, on his way to a perfect first inning. He allowed two seeing-eye singles in the second. Then, in the third inning, he pitched another perfect frame, including two more strikeouts (one of them being Marsh - again). But then, the cracks started to show in the fourth inning. David Peralta led the frame off with a double. Two outs later, he came home on a single by Josh Rojas. Keller was then able to escape the inning without further damage.
Still, that one run in the fourth put the Diamondbacks in the lead, with Robbie Ray on the mound. Through those first four innings, Ray had five strikeouts. Of course, in typical Ray fashion, he also issued three walks. However, where he was shining was, keeping the ball from finding safe ground. He allowed only one hit through the front four innings, a bases-loading single in the fourth inning. After escaping that mini-jam, Ray cruised. The fifth, sixth, and seventh innings saw the Royals tag Ray for exactly one hit - a one-out single past a diving Ketel Marte off the bat of Brett Phillips in the fifth inning.
For their part, Arizona’s offense continued to chip away at Kansas City pitching. Keller was tagged with another solo run in the sixth. Then, in the seventh, the floodgates finally burst. Keller. In that frame, Keller found another two quick outs before surrendering a single to Ildemaro Vargas and then a double to Jake Lamb. That ended Keller’s outing. Virtual Mike Matheny turned the ball over to Tyler Zuber to face Nick Ahmed. Zuber was unable to get that out. Ahmed shot a ball at 106.9 mph just to the right of second base to score Vargas. That brought Marsh up to bat. Marsh followed suit, sending his own single back up the middle. The throw home by Phillips was not in time to catch Lamb at the plate. Ahmed took third on the throw. David Peralta then walked, loading the bases and bringing an end to Zuber’s attempts to control the damage. Tim Hill came out to pitch. He threw one to the backstop, allowing all runners to advance, scoring Ahmed. Finally, Hill was able to end the inning.
The three runs scored in the seventh were more than enough to give Ray room to work. With a four-run lead, Ray went straight after Kansas City’s hitters. The results spoke for themselves. Ray’s teammates were still adjusting ball caps and glove tightness before the inning was over.
The Diamondbacks scored again in the eighth inning, using doubles by Rojas and Vargas to do so. In the ninth inning, Arizona hitters had their way with the Kansas City bullpen. The Snakes scored seven runs on eight hits (including four doubles) and two walks. With the rout firmly in hand, the Diamondbacks sent Merrill Kelly out to pitch a second inning. Down to their final out, the Royals managed to avoid the combined shutout. Ryan McBroom got enough of a Kelly pitch to put it into the seats and finally put the Royals on the board. Two pitches later, Alex Gordon grounded out to Christian Walker to end the inning.
Final Score: AZ 12 - KC 1
The player of the game was Robbie Ray. Rav continues to show the sort of promise everyone was waiting to see after his 2017 season. The Arizona offense had a banner day. Every member of the lineup contributed at least one hit and scored at least one run. Ketel Marte, batting in the heart of the order, was somehow the only member of the lineup to not drive in a run as well. YCPB
The same two teams are at it again tomorrow to finish the series. Jon Duplantier will face Brady Singer.