Ray commands fastball, builds confidence

D-backs lefty joins Johnson, Schilling in club's record book

Ray commands fastball, builds confidence

SAN DIEGO -- As he warmed up in the bullpen before Saturday night's game, D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray had a feeling it was going to be a good night, given the way the ball was feeling coming out of his hand.

As it turned out Ray was right on the money as he tossed a dominant seven innings to help lead the D-backs to a 2-1 win over the Padres at Petco Park.

Ray (7-11) allowed just one hit -- a fifth-inning solo homer by Patrick Kivlehan -- and a walk while striking out a career-high 13.

Ray joined Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling as the only D-backs pitchers to allow one hit or less and strike out 13 in at least seven innings.

"Other than that [home run], he was outstanding tonight," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "Aggressive, used his breaking ball enough to keep them off balance. Just a dynamic fastball, moved it around, did a wonderful job."

Ray strikes out 13

Stuff is never the issue for Ray, but rather it is the times when he struggles to throw strikes, which runs up his pitch count and prevents him from pitching deep into games.

That was not a problem Saturday as it took him just 26 pitches to get through the first two innings and 22 of them went for strikes.

"It was my fastball command," Ray said. "I might have thrown a couple of breaking balls, but mostly fastballs in those first two innings and it was just moving both sides of the plate. It was working tonight. I think it's just confidence. Confidence in my stuff and getting better every time I go out there."

Ray's teammates can sense that confidence and they've watched it grow since he became a rotation regular in June 2015.

"It's impressive," said veteran reliever Daniel Hudson, who helped preserve the win by getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth. "You've got a guy like him with the type of stuff that he has and the sky's really the limit. It's fun to watch every fifth day. Sometimes he'll get in a jam and it's fun to watch him kind of mature and slow things down a little bit and get himself out of those things."

Hudson's clutch pitching

While he had his fastball working early, Ray was able to mix in his breaking ball as the game went along.

"He beat us inside to righties all day," Padres manager Andy Green said. "That's something he's gone to recently. He used to be a middle-out guy with his fastball. He's really attacking well with angle in, speeding up bats, which makes his slider play more effectively. I thought Robbie was good today. We just had a hard time squaring him up."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.