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Arizona Diamondbacks 3, Tampa Bay Rays 2

Robbie Ray, Archie Bradley, and Zack Godley deserve all the praise in a stellar pitching performance for the series finale.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Everything that yesterday’s pitching matchup was not, today’s was. Last night the Tampa Bay Rays utilized an “opener” bullpen game against Taylor Clarke making his first MLB start for Arizona. Today, it was two established veterans toeing the rubber in Robbie Ray and Charlie Morton. Both men proved to be a difficult challenge for opposing hitters, and I’m going to guess that it had something to do with a lack of familiarity. Morton and Ray combined to throw 19 strikeouts today. Ray as we know has an overpowering fastball while Morton was making the D’backs look foolish with his curveball.

Arizona drew first blood in the top half of the 1st inning. Jarrod Dyson drew a 5 pitch walk as the first batter of the game. Morton followed by making Eduardo Escobar look absolutely lost at the plate on a strikeout. Designated hitter David Peralta, who went 0-4 last night, singled to right field to advance the speedy Dyson to third base. Adam Jones brought Dyson in on a fielder’s choice for the early 1-0 lead. The call on the field was initially that Tampa had converted the double play, but a D’backs replay challenge clearly showed that first baseman Avisail Garcia’s foot came off the bag before he had the ball, so the ruling was overturned.

The D’backs had an opportunity to add to their lead in the 2nd were it not for a head scratching base running blunder by Wilmer Flores. Flores laced a single to Tommy Pham in left field to lead off the 2nd, but mistakenly though he could stretch it into a double. The only problem was that Flores was just hitting the first base bag when Pham was fielding the ball, so Flores was out by a mile on a strong throw from Pham. Flores must have though he was Jarrod Dyson for a moment. Nick Ahmed immediately followed that blunder with a double to right field which would have at the very least put Flores at third had he been content with the single. Arizona’s one out threat would not come to pass because Morton caught Blake Swihart looking at a backdoor breaking ball and then John Ryan Murphy lined out to left field.

However, Arizona did eventually add the elusive second run in the top of the 3rd fairly similar to their scoring formula in the 1st. Dyson drew his second walk of the game in as many at bats. Escobar once again appeared to be lost at the plate on another strikeout. The Freight Train lined a single to center advancing Dyson to second base. After an Adam Jones strikeout, Ketel Marte singled to center himself to score Dyson for the 2-0 lead.

Robbie Ray was overwhelming the Rays through most of his start today allowing only 4 hits and 3 walks and no runs. He struck out at least two batters in all of the innings he pitched save for one, and his swing and miss stuff was really working. 8 of his 11 strikeouts on the day were a result of the batter swinging through strike 3, and through the 2nd and 3rd innings he struck out 5 of 6 batters faced. There is no other way to put it other than to say he was dominant and efficient needing only 95 pitches to complete 5 & 23 innings. Torey Lovullo opted to lift Ray from the game with 2 outs in the 6th and runners on first and second. Ray’s 11 strikeouts were the most he has had in a game so far this season.

From that point forward, the D’backs bullpen was responsible for maintaining a slim 2 run lead, so it’s understood if you watched the rest of the game from the edge of your seat provided the memories of recent games. Andrew Chafin secured the final out of the bottom of the 6th after a long, 10 pitch strikeout against Brandon Lowe. Yoan Lopez took the mound for the 7th which led to some initial speculation from the broadcast booth as to who would have the 8th. Would Archie Bradley be trusted in that spot after his most recent meltdown in Colorado? Lopez was locked down, as he has been this whole season, in the 7th sandwiching a groundout between striking out Willy Adames and Gulliermo Heredia.

A bit surprising is that Lovullo ran Lopez back out for the bottom of the 8th inning already at 16 pitches, but it’s difficult to blame Torey given the struggles out of the bullpen lately. Unfortunately, Lopez failed to record a single out in the 8th through 3 batters before being pulled. Yandy Diaz walked on 6 pitches and moved over to second on a 1 pitch single to right field from Tommy Pham. Lopez induced a much needed grounder from Daniel Robertson to Escobar at third base, but he botched the throw to second allowing Diaz to score and make it a 2-1 game.

Oh no, here we go again. Not having much of a choice, Lovullo turned to Yoshihisa Hirano. He hit the first batter he faced, Avisail Garcia, to load the bases with no outs. The only good thing to come of that was that there was a force out at every base, which played beautifully to the Diamondbacks favor. Mike Zunino grounded to the best fielder out there, Nick Ahmed, who fired home to preserve the lead. Lovullo then motioned for the lefty on lefty matchup calling on T.J. McFarland to face Brandon Lowe. It worked perfectly as Lowe struck out for the second out, and then Marte snagged a liner up the middle from Adames to keep it a 2-1 game.

Arizona did nothing to secure an insurance run in the top of the 9th, so it was Greg Holland’s victory to secure with 3 outs remaining and a 1 run lead. Holland had not blown a save so far this season and had not pitched since May 3rd. Holland recorded the first 2 outs of the inning quickly on a groundout and strikeout. Victory was within a fingernail’s grasp, but once again the bullpen could not strap it down. Yandy Diaz hit a 2 out double to right center field, so the D’backs chose to intentionally walk Tommy Pham to ensure a force out at any base besides home. Rays manager Kevin Cash called upon struggling outfielder Kevin Kiermaier off the bench in a pinch hit appearance. He took his .713 OPS and singled to center field scoring Diaz to tie the game. Kiermaier was caught in a rundown between first and second, but Arizona also had to be mindful of Pham attempting to score from third. Seeing Pham break for home, Ahmed broke off the pickle and fired to John Ryan Murphy at home for the out. Tampa Bay challenged the call, but the ruling was upheld after review resulting in extra innings.

Now there was no choice for Lovullo but to go to Archie Bradley after Arizona failed to score in the top of the 10th. His outing was significantly less eventful, for the better, than this past Sunday in Denver. Bradley struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced in the bottom of the 10th on 10 pitches. Needing to build the confidence, Torey sent him right back out for the 11th. Bradley gave up a lead off double to Willy Adames, but that was hardly Bradley’s fault. Adam Jones was slow as molasses getting to the ball. It was as if he was running with cinder blocks anchored to his feet. Archie remained poised and refused to allow this to rattle him, striking out Nate Lowe and Ji-Man Choi in order, and notched a grounder to shortstop for the final out of the inning.

Not getting a lick of assistance from the offense, Bradley was back on the mound for the bottom of the 12th. In fact, Arizona had not had a base hit spanning back all the way to the 5th INNING... He deserves our respect today after correcting course violently with a 3 inning scoreless outing with 5 strikeouts. Bradley walked Pham to begin the 12th frame, but was picked off at first after replay review with 1 out for the second out of the inning. Garcia swung through strike 3 to end the 12th and Archie’s outing.

The D’backs secured their first base hit in 7 innings on a leadoff line single to right field from Escobar in the 13th. David Peralta walked behind him, but was erased after Adam Jones grounded into a double play. With two outs and Escobar on third, Marte drew a full count walk to put runners on the corners. Kevin Cash called out to his bullpen again for the Rays seventh pitcher of the game, Chaz Roe. Torey Lovullo had Christian Walker looming on the bench, but left Flores in for the plate appearance. Flores hit a little Gonzo blooper, yeah that doesn’t feel quite right, to right field scoring Escobar and giving Arizona the 3-2 lead.

Following a 56 pitch relief appearance on Monday, Zack Godley came in for his first career save opportunity. Godley struck out Nick Ciuffo and Brandon Lowe, and got Willy Adames to fly out harmlessly to right field securing the 3-2 victory. Sweet redemption and kudos are in order for Archie Bradley and Zack Godley. Those two men have had to endure a healthy amount of criticism recently, but combined to hold Tampa scoreless in the 10th through 13th innings, striking out 7.

The 23 pitching strikeouts for Arizona in this contest were a single game franchise record according to the Fox Sports Arizona broadcast.

Arizona Diamondbacks 3, Tampa Bay Rays 2

Round of applause:

- Archie Bradley: +40.2% WPA, 3 scoreless innings, 5 strikeouts

- Zack Godley: +19.4% WPA, first career save, 2 strikeouts

- Robbie Ray: +29.1% WPA, 5 23 innings, 11 strikeouts, 4 hits allowed

Do better next time:

- Adam Jones: -39.6% WPA, 0-6 at the plate, running with cinder blocks on his feet in RF

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