SAN DIEGO – The Arizona Diamondbacks won another game they ought to have won, beating up on the last-place San Diego Padres by a score of 9-4 on Friday night. The evening had a different feel in a far corner of the visitors’ clubhouse, where Robbie Ray stood in front of his locker without answers.

For 4 1/3 innings, Ray labored. He could not command his pitches. He could not throw strikes. He hollered at home-plate umpire James Hoye on his way off the mound after the first inning, only to say later that Hoye had the strike zone right.

“It was all self-inflicted,” Ray said.

Ray came into this season expecting to build on the breakout he enjoyed last year. He saw his emergence last season as a sort of first step. Armed with electric stuff, he found a way to harness it in 2017, and, more often than not, he dominated.


Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray gave up just two hits, but he walked five batters and failed to complete the fifth inning on Friday night in San Diego.
Nick Piecoro, azcentral sports

This season has been a different story. Early in the year, his velocity deserted him. Just as it was starting to return, he strained his oblique. Since coming back, the stuff has mostly been there, but the command hasn’t.

Ray has issued at least three walks 10 times in 16 starts and is averaging 4.9 walks per nine innings. He was tough on both righties and lefties last year, but lately has struggled against right-handed hitters, who own an .828 OPS against him. He owns a 4.91 ERA, a mark that is more than two runs higher than last year.

“I’ve had a little command issue,” Ray said. “I just need to get back to what I do best and that’s pound the zone. I’ve got too good of stuff to be pitching around the zone. I’ve just got to attack guys and then my offspeed stuff gets better.”

He was viewed as a sort of foundational beam for the Diamondbacks entering the year. And though he hasn’t been able to carry the weight, neither has the entire structure collapsed. But without a dominant Ray, it becomes harder to imagine a postseason run materializing.

Warming up in the bullpen on Friday evening, Ray felt like himself; his pitches were going where he wanted them. That changed once he stepped on the game mound at Petco Park.

Ray doesn’t think this is a matter of controlling his emotions. Perhaps, he said, it’s about a lack of focus, but he seems to think the issue lies in his mechanics.

“All I can do is I can go into my next bullpen session, watch video, see what I’m doing and compare it to when I’m at my best,” Ray said. “And just try to mimic that. I don’t really have too many answers, but that’s probably my best bet.”



Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo talks about his team’s second win in as many days against the Padres, as well as Robbie Ray’s rough start.
Nick Piecoro, azcentral sports

Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.