Ray's best stuff eludes him in tough conditions

2 years ago

CHICAGO – The Mariners entered the 2022 season with high aspirations. A year after winning 90 games and just missing out on the final AL Wild Card spot, Seattle had its eye on a player to get over its postseason drought: Robbie Ray, reigning AL Cy Young winner. The parties agreed to a five-year, $115 million contract in the offseason.

In his first start of the season, the southpaw delivered a gem (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER).

On Wednesday, the expectation was that Ray was going to pick up right where he left off in his first start. But this time, things were a little different, in a 6-4 losing effort to the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The game started 47 minutes later due to a rain delay. And once Ray took the mound, the storm didn’t stop, but rather continued throughout. The downpour especially picked up in the second, where the left-hander allowed four earned runs.

“The second inning was probably the hardest it rained all night,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais.

Still, Ray was determined to continue fighting and putting his team in the best possible spot.

“After that second inning, I told myself, ‘get as deep as you can into this ballgame and just don’t crush the bullpen,’” Ray said.

Ray would use his own advice and settle down after the second-inning troubles. Through innings 3-6, he allowed just three hits with three strikeouts.

“Robbie really competed his tail off,” said Servais. “He really settled down to give us a chance to get back into the game.”

As Ray steadied, the Mariners’ bats started to take form. They scored two runs in the fifth, thanks to consecutive hits from J.P. Crawford, Tom Murphy and Dylan Moore. Seattle clawed away at its deficit, cutting it to one.

But two innings later, Ray allowed back-to-back home runs to Tim Anderson and Luis Robert, ending his night giving up six earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.

“The offense had a ton of respect for who we were facing,” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa. “They came out there just trying to compete. You could tell he threw the ball better as the day went on. He’s a top notch pitcher, but I gotta give our offense credit considering the conditions and everything. We came ready to compete.”

The four-run second inning for the White Sox proved too much for the Mariners to overcome as they dropped their fourth straight game after a 2-0 start to the season.

“We couldn’t get much going in the sixth or seventh,” said Servais. “The back end of their bullpen is really good.”

It was a tough outing for the reigning Cy Young winner. Those six earned runs were the most that Ray has allowed since Aug. 10, 2020. It was the first time in his nine-year career that he allowed 10-plus hits in a game.

The conditions made it hard for Ray to feel comfortable on the mound. He was seen wiping the ball after every pitch and kicking the dirt in front of him.

“It was a little muddy,” said Ray. “It wasn’t the greatest conditions, but we’re professionals and I’m not wanting to make excuses.”