PHOENIX — Give Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray an “A” in self-evaluation.
Ray won his final six regular-season decisions in 2017 after missing a month with a concussion suffered when he was struck in the head by a line drive in St. Louis on July 28. Then last Wednesday Ty Montgomery Jersey , he spun six scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory over Florida in his first start after missing 58 days with an oblique injury.
Ray will face the Cardinals again on Monday, in the first game of a three-game series at Chase Field. Right-hander Carlos Martinez will start for the Cardinals.
“Obviously, I’m not going to go out there if I don’t feel 100 percent,” said Ray, a first-time All-Star in 2017.
“There is a constant line of communication between me and Torey (manager Lovullo). He was open with me. He wanted me to make another rehab start. I made it clear that I felt like I was ready. It felt good to be back on the mound and to be good to put up some zeroes for this team and help us win.”
Both Arizona and St. Louis enter the series after being swept, the Diamondbacks losing three to NL West rival San Francisco and the Cardinals dropping three to NL East-leading Atlanta.
That was only a slight hiccup for the Diamondbacks, whose 19 victories in June tied for the most in the majors. They led the majors with 11 triples and were second in runs in the month. Starting pitchers had 15 victories, also the most in the majors, capped by wins by Ray and Zack Greinke in the final two games of a four-game series in Miami early last week.
The D-backs have lost only two of their last 10 series, both to San Francisco, while recovering from a 2-15 skid in May.
“You are going to have ups and downs,” Ray said. “That was a little bit of an extended down, but good teams find a way to break out of that. I feel like we’ve done that this month.
“It’s another thing we have going on. The dynamic in this clubhouse http://www.officialstarsproonline.com/authentic-adidas-brett-ritchie-jersey , we are never down on ourselves. Guys were in here playing music every single day. Nothing has changed. We understand that there is a process, and you have to stick with it. The second that you start changing who you are and over-analyzing a little bit, it can weigh on you.
“We just come in there every day like it’s a new day. We prepare every day the same way, and we don’t change anything.”
The Cardinals have been careening a bit. They have lost four in a row after winning four straight, a run that ended another three-game losing streak. They have lost 12 of 18 since peaking at eight games over .500 on June 11.
St. Louis has scored 11 runs in their last four games after clobbering Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, scoring six runs off his in 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing of his major league career.
Martinez (4-4) won that game, his first in five starts since returning from the disabled list, giving up two runs with eight strikeouts in six innings. He had a 1.62 ERA in eight starts before going on the disabled list and has 6.75 ERA in five starts since returning. His issue has been walks, 43 in 72 2/3 innings.
The Cardinals have considered moving first baseman Jose Martinez to the outfield in an attempt to increase their run production, but Martinez started at first again Sunday.
“The bat has to be (in the lineup),” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told reporters over the weekend. “You’ve got a guy who’s been as consistent as anybody we’ve had all season. So you’ve got to find a place for him.
“We’ve never ruled out the outfield. None of that is out of the question. We haven’t featured that yet but it’s something that has been in the conversation. He’s been doing work out there, too. But Dan Hamhuis Jersey Kids , right now, it’s how do we improve at first base?”
Carlos Martinez has had good success against Arizona, with a 2.88 ERA in eight appearances. That ERA ranks 20th among active major leaguers with at least 30 innings against the Diamondbacks. Martinez has been even more successful at Chase Field, with a 2.11 ERA, fifth among those with at least 20 innings.
Martinez has given up one homer against the Diamondbacks, that coming to Gerardo Parra in their first meeting. Since then, he has gone 33 1/3 innings without giving up a homer to them.
Ray (3-0) is 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA in four career starts against the Cardinals. He was removed after being struck by Luke Voit liner in the second inning of the July 28 start last season.
After bringing in Felipe Vazquez with his team trailing by two in the eighth inning, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked by bench coach Tom Prince whether the closer would stay in the game if his turn to bat came up in the ninth.
”At the time, I counted off and said this is what the lead will be and I still think he’s our best option to close,” Hurdle joked. ”We would be in a good spot if we can get Vazquez up to the plate.”
As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened.
David Freese hit a go-ahead, two-run single and Pittsburgh rallied for four runs in the ninth to beat the New York Mets 5-3 on Wednesday night.
Gregory Polanco had an RBI single and Josh Bell added a sacrifice fly as the Pirates, blanked by Zack Wheeler for seven innings Devin Shore Jersey , came back against a beleaguered New York bullpen to win for the second time in eight games. Pittsburgh took two of three against the Mets to win a road series for the first time since sweeping the Chicago White Sox from May 8-9.
”This one very easily could have gotten away from us,” Hurdle said. ”It could have been another series loss. They found a way to put a foot down and make something really positive happen.”
Elias Diaz got it started with a leadoff single on an 0-2 pitch from closer Jeurys Familia (3-4). Corey Dickerson also singled on 0-2, sending Diaz to third. Polanco drove in Diaz with a single for the Pirates’ third straight two-strike hit.
Familia, who threw 28 pitches in a scoreless outing Tuesday, was lifted after walking Jordy Mercer on four pitches to load the bases. It was the first time in his career that Familia took the mound and failed to get an out.
Freese punched Anthony Swarzak’s first pitch into right-center, giving Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead.
”I had a good approach and got a pitch that I thought I could get in the air and it fell in,” said Freese, who entered with Vazquez as part of a double switch in the eighth.
Bell’s sacrifice fly made it 5-3, and the Pirates completed their 17th comeback win of the season.
”It’s probably the toughest spot in our business with the game on the line,” said Swarzak, summoned with the bases loaded and nobody out. ”I didn’t execute on that first pitch and the team paid the price.”
Wilmer Flores homered and Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits for New York, which has dropped eight of nine. Mets relievers have 21 losses, most in the majors.
One night after snapping a seven-game skid Womens Esa Lindell Jersey , the Mets (32-46) finished a 1-5 homestand by losing for the 15th time in their last 17 games at Citi Field. They have dropped 25 of 32 overall and gone 11 consecutive series without winning one.
The loss was New York’s sixth when leading after seven innings, tied for second-most in the majors.
Vazquez (3-2) threw two scoreless innings for the win. He also struck out on three pitches in his second major league at-bat, fouling off the first two offerings.
A dominant Wheeler scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings. He struck out seven and threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 26 batters he faced. But after his bullpen blew a 3-0 lead, the right-hander is 0-5 in 11 starts since his last win April 29 at San Diego.
”I saw really good pitching on the other side early,” Hurdle said. ”(Wheeler) kept pumping strikes.”
Pittsburgh broke through in the eighth against Robert Gsellman. Starling Marte led off with a pinch-hit double, stole his third base of the series and scored on Austin Meadows‘ sacrifice fly.
Bell singled to chase Gsellman, but rookie Tim Peterson got out of the inning.
Jose Bautista hit an RBI double in the third and scored on Cabrera’s single to put the Mets in front 2-0. Flores added a solo homer in the sixth off starter Ivan Nova.
Flores had seven RBIs in the series and has driven in a run in five straight games.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (finger) threw a bullpen Tuesday and looked good, according to manager Mickey Callaway. Syndergaard threw all his pitches and will progress to facing hitters. … Callaway said outfielders Jay Bruce (hip) and Yoenis Cespedes (hip flexor) are both day to day with soreness and the team is waiting for that to subside before increasing their activity. Cespedes is expected to meet with the coaching staff during the upcoming trip to Miami. … OF Brandon Nimmo went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in his return to the top of the lineup. Nimmo came off the bench in the previous two games after getting hit by a pitch on the right pinkie Sunday.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli (concussion) was cleared to resume exercising and went through a 45-minute workout in Pittsburgh. … RHP Michael Feliz (shoulder) remains isn’t throwing yet but is expected to play catch in the coming days. … After being removed from Tuesday’s game with right forearm discomfort, RHP Chad Kuhl underwent a series of tests and an update is expected in the next day or two.
Mets: Begin a three-game series at Miami on Friday. RHP Jacob deGrom (5-3, major league-low 1.69 ERA) pitches for New York, while the Marlins will call up highly regarded prospect Sandy Alcantara from Triple-A New Orleans to make his 2018 debut.
Pirates: Open a three-game series in San Diego on Friday. Struggling RHP Joe Musgrove (2-3, 4.59 ERA) draws the start in his hometown.