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 Adidas Mikko Rantanen 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 Adidas Seth Jones Jersey , 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, 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) Adidas Artemi Panarin Jersey ,” 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, 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 a rough debut, Cleveland Indians rookie Shane Bieber has found his routine.
Edwin Encarnacion and Lonnie Chisenhall hit back-to-back homers, Bieber pitched six strong innings and the Indians beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 on Wednesday night.
Bieber (3-0) struck out seven to become the seventh pitcher in baseball’s modern era to strike out six or more batters in each of his first four major league starts. After giving up four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his first outing, Bieber has given up just two runs in his last three starts and lowered his ERA to 2.22.
”It’s just being able to fall into a routine and just get a little more comfortable within that routine and within the clubhouse here and with the guys and all that Adidas Sergei Bobrovsky Jersey ,” Bieber said. ”That goes a long way to being able to establish what you want to do.”
The Indians avoided a series sweep and have won eight of 10. Cleveland starters improved to 17-2 with a 2.26 ERA across 26 starts in series finales, including wins in their last nine decisions.
”For a young kid when runners are on and things start to happen, he seems to pitch more maturely than his age would indicate,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. ”He starts throwing his breaking ball, gets some chase, doesn’t panic, game doesn’t speed up. That’s a real nice trait for anybody, let alone a kid that’s got four major league starts.”
Bieber jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Jack Flaherty in the fourth for a double, his first major league hit.
Jose Martinez snapped Bieber’s scoreless innings streak at 14 innings with a one-out RBI single in the third.
”I thought he had a good breaking ball,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Bieber. ”It must have been a little different from than what guys have seen lately, you could tell some of the swings even in counts where they might have been looking for it might have been off a bit.”
Encarnacion and Chisenhall gave the Indians a 2-0 lead in the second, marking Cleveland’s fifth back-to-back home runs this season.
Francisco Lindor walked and Michael Brantley doubled to spark a two-run third that extended the Indians’ lead to 4-0. Tyler Naquin doubled home another run in the sixth.
Francona credited a loose atmosphere after the Indians dropped the first two in the series.
”It’s not necessarily about being silly but it’s about you don’t want to just be tight Adidas Jamie Benn Jersey ,” Francona said. ”We already lost a couple tough games and it’s nice to come back and play a good one with a day off tomorrow and a long flight.”
Flaherty (3-3) went four innings, his shortest outing this season as the Cardinals had their four-game winning streak snapped. It followed perhaps his most dominant start, in which he carried a no-hitter for 6 1/3 innings against Milwaukee on Friday.
”Those two home runs were missed spots and I just wasn’t able to execute,” Flaherty said. ”They hit some balls that fell.”
Matt Carpenter walked, doubled and scored a night after scoring five runs and getting five hits.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (right elbow contusion) threw a bullpen session and will throw about 65 pitches on a rehab assignment Saturday at Double-A Akron.
Cardinals: SS Paul DeJong (left hand fracture) is scheduled to meet with doctors Thursday with the hopes of being cleared to head out for a rehab assignment.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (7-5, 2.44 ERA) will kick off a three-game series against Oakland and RHP Paul Blackburn (1-2, 8.83 ERA) on Friday. Bauer is 1-2 with a 4.44 ERA in five career starts against the A’s.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (8-2, 2.69 ERA) will get the start as St. Louis hosts Atlanta and RHP Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.52 ERA) in the first of a three-game set Friday. Mikolas threw 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings in his only career appearance against the Braves on Aug. 15, 2012.