Ray pitches five strong innings as Diamondbacks beat Mets
NEW YORK — A comebacker off Robbie Ray’s calf in the fourth inning Thursday afternoon provided closure on a scary chapter in what has otherwise been an upbeat season for Ray and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The sight an inning later of Michael Conforto hobbling off the field with a dislocated shoulder suffered following a swing and a miss offered more proof for the New York Mets that the end to their misery is nowhere in sight.
Ray, pitching less than a month after he was hit in the head by a 108 mph line drive, was activated from the disabled list Thursday and tossed five strong innings as the Diamondbacks edged the Mets, 3-2, in the finale of a four-game series at Citi Field.
Ray (10-5) suffered a concussion and needed three staples to close a wound on the left side of his head when he was hit by a ball off the bat of St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Luke Voit on July 28. He said he didn’t feel any extra nerves Thursday, when Ray allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out nine.
“There hasn’t really been any issues getting back up on the mound,” Ray said. “I was just trying to go out there and put up zeroes like I know how to.”
Ray struck out the side on 12 pitches in the first inning and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth, when Yoenis Cespedes broke a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer.
Two batters later, Amed Rosario hit a sharp one-hopper that bounced off Ray’s left calf. Ray recovered to throw out the speedy Rosario.
“I think we were all kind of holding our breath,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “But I know there’s a series of things that happen that lead you to the end of the story; that is telling you he’s going to be OK. And I think that was the final piece of the puzzle.”
Lovullo and a trainer visited Ray, who threw a pitch before remaining in the game.
“It’s going to happen, comebackers are part of baseball,” Ray said. “Luckily, this time, it hit me in the calf and I made the play.”
The Diamondbacks took the lead in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by Gregor Blanco and a sacrifice fly by Ketel Marte, after which the Mets received yet another reminder that losing players to injury has been an inescapable part of their star-crossed season.
With two outs and two on, Conforto, the Mets’ lone All-Star this year, swung and missed at a 2-0 pitch. He immediately crumpled to the ground clutching his left shoulder and remained there for a couple minutes. Conforto eventually got up, still holding his left shoulder, and walked slowly into the dugout with a trainer.
The Mets announced the dislocated diagnosis less than 20 minutes later, an unusually quick announcement that may not bode well for Conforto, who underwent an MRI exam after the game. Conforto was 0-for-2 Thursday and is batting .279 with 27 homers and 68 RBIs in his first full major league campaign.
“Just kind of makes you feel depressed,” Mets rookie first baseman Dominic Smith said. “A lot of people have been going down all year, so it just (stinks) to see another player go down.”
Conforto’s injury may be the most jarring one suffered this season by the Mets, who have used the disabled list 28 times for 21 players.
“It turns your stomach,” said Mets manager Terry Collins, whose postgame press conference lasted barely two minutes and consisted of seven questions about Conforto. “A young player who’s having a tremendous year, really making a name for himself to go down like that, with that kind of injury, it’s tough to watch.”
Brandon Drury had an RBI single in the sixth for the Diamondbacks (70-58), who took three of four from the Mets to move into the first wild card spot in the National League, a half-game ahead of the Colorado Rockies.
Four relievers combined to strand seven Mets baserunners over the final four innings, with Fernando Rodney earning his 30th save by stranding runners at the corners in a scoreless ninth.
Brandon Nimmo, who replaced Conforto, delivered an RBI groundout in the seventh for the Mets (55-71), who went 2-6 on an eight-game homestand. Cespedes and Kevin Plawecki had two hits apiece.
Mets right-hander Rafael Montero (2-9) took the loss after allowing the three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five over 5 1/3 innings.
NOTES: To make room on the 25-man roster for LHP Robbie Ray, the Diamondbacks optioned RHP Matt Koch to Triple-A Reno. ... Diamondbacks SS Nick Ahmed (broken right hand) is scheduled to play his fourth rehab game for the rookie-level Arizona League Diamondbacks on Thursday night. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said it could be the final game for Ahmed before he is moved to Reno. ... The Mets announced RHP Zack Wheeler (shoulder) will not pitch again this season and that RHP Tyler Pill (elbow) underwent elbow surgery Wednesday. ... Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard (torn right lat) is scheduled to throw batting practice at the team’s spring training complex in Florida on Friday.