Record: 46-34. Pace: 93-69. Change on 2017: -4.
Before we get started, let’s discuss a little bit of this day in history. On June 27th, 2003 the Florida Marlins squared off against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park. Former D’back Byung-Hyun Kim took the start for the Sox against Carl Pavano. The Red Sox would score 10 (!!!) runs in the top of the 1st inning without recording a single out! The first 11 Boston hitters would reach base safely before the first out, and it would require two pitching changes from Florida to find that elusive out. By the time the inning had concluded, Boston had tacked 14 on the board, and Johnny Damon was a home run away from the cycle. I share that story with you because the offensive performance was drastically different tonight, 15 years later.
Robbie Ray returned to the MLB mound for the first time since he went down with an oblique stain on April 29th in Washington. He was scheduled for another rehab start with the Reno Aces tonight, but with the Miami Marlins being equivalent to the talent level he would have faced the team decided to activate him early. Tonight was arguably his best start of the season. Early on his fastball velocity was touching 93-94 mph. He had difficulty at times with the command of his offspeed pitches, but was efficient with his pitch count through the first three innings requiring only 35 pitches. That’s more than acceptable by his standards.
The truth of the matter is that there isn’t much offense to recap in the early goings of this contest. Lefty Wei-Yin Chen opposed Robbie on the mound for the Marlins entering the game with a 6.70 ERA. Both men faced the minimum through the first three innings, Robbie requiring a double play in the 3rd to do so. Chen allowed his first baserunner and hit in the 4th inning on a walk to Paul Goldschmidt and a single from John Ryan Murphy, but Arizona was unable to produce anything of the two out effort.
The most difficult inning for Robbie came in the 4th. After delivering a first pitch strike to leadoff batter Starlin Castro, he issued eight straight balls to walk both Castro and Brian Anderson to put men on first and second base with no outs. All it took was a mound visit to correct course because he retired the next three in order on a groundout and two strikeouts.
The Diamondbacks decided they would use their half of the 5th inning to pick on center fielder Lewis Brinson as the first three men successfully hit it in his direction to reach base. Ketel Marte got it started with what should have been a single, but when he saw Brinson put his head down and jog to the ball he turned on the burners towards second base. Brinson made a strong throw to second, but Marte went in with one of the most beautiful, angled, feet first slides you will ever see to avoid the tag.
"That is a thing of beauty." -- Bob Brenly on the hook slide that earned Marte a hustle double. pic.twitter.com/q2ffgK6KbQ— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) June 28, 2018
How’s that for fundamentals, Keith?
Chris Owings followed that up with a single to Brinson himself to advance Marte to third. Brinson got the ball in quicker this time around, except when the throw came in it hit the mound allowing Owings to take second on the bounce. It had the making of a big inning with two runners in scoring position and no outs. Deven Marrero kept the train going with yet another single to Brinson scoring Marte easily. However, that would be the end of heads up baserunning in the inning for the Diamondbacks for Owings was thrown out easily at home trying to score as well. It makes sense in retrospect that he would attempt to score considering Brinson’s questionable throw on Owings’ single prior. Chen buckled down striking out Ray and Jon Jay to end the inning with Arizona managing only a single run.
Robbie Ray’s return outing concluded after the 6th inning having thrown only 83 pitches, 56 for strikes, striking out 6, allowing 2 hits, 2 walks, and no runs. “Big Hit” Daniel Descalso was ultimately the deciding factor in this game. He came to the plate in a pinch hit appearance in the 8th inning to face left handed reliever Adam Gonley, and took him deep to right field for a solo shot giving Arizona a 2-0 lead. It was a key insurance run because even though Yoshi Hirano and Archie Bradley kept Miami off the bases in the 7th and 8th, Brad Boxberger ran into trouble in the bottom of the 9th. After falling behind the leadoff hitter Starlin Castro 2-0, Castro drove a 2-1 fastball down the heart of the plate to the Clevelander Night Club in left field bringing Miami within 1 run. It was the 4th home run that Boxberger has allowed this month and 6th on the year. He walked Brian Anderson next, so Don Mattingly went with slugger Justin Bour off the bunch to represent the winning run. Torey Lovullo had Andrew Chafin ready in the bullpen to face the lefty, but he stuck with Boxberger who got Bour on a called third strike. A wild pitch allowed Anderson to move into scoring position, but Boxberger retired Lewis Brinson on a groundout and Derek Dietrich on a flyout to secure a closer-than-it-should-have-been 2-1 victory.
Three stars: Robbie Ray, +37.3% WPA, 6.0 innings, 6 K’s, 2 BB, 2 H, 0 ER
Two stars: Daniel Descalso, +11.8% WPA, pinch hit solo home run
One star: Ketel Marte, +3.9 WPA, go ahead run, stellar feet first slide to avoid tag
"That was about as good as it could have been." -- Robbie Ray on his first start in two months. pic.twitter.com/UfjLlmPkFu— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) June 28, 2018
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You wanna know what is more embarrassing than the attendance in Miami? The participation in the GDT on our sister site for the Marlins, Fish Stripes. My intention in even looking at their GDT was to try something different and pull the CoTD from there.... buuuuuut that franchise is completely devoid of fan interest. Rightfully so.
My thoughts exactly. It’s damn good to have #RayDay back. With the victory today Arizona has its first win on a Wednesday since, *flips calendar, April 11th. A record of 3-9. Sheesh.