In the Seattle Mariners’ Opening Day victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday, starting pitcher Robbie Ray threw seven strong innings while allowing just one run on three hits and four walks. Ray struck out five in the performance (his first in a Mariners uniform), and seamlessly worked around having runners on the bases in nearly every inning.
Robbie Ray walked four or more batters only twice in his 32 starts last season with the Blue Jays; interestingly enough, the second of those starts last season came against the Twins, a game in which he earned the win on six innings of one-run ball.
In yesterday’s Mariners victory, it seemed that Ray was at his best when runners were on. In the bottom of the third, he walked the leadoff batter then hit the next one, but worked out of the jam by striking out Byron Buxton and inducing a double play from Carlos Correa (two of Minnesota’s top hitters). Then, in the fifth, Ray struck out Buxton once again with two runners on before forcing Correa into a lineout to center to end the inning.
Having a true ace at the top of the rotation is already paying dividends for the Mariners, as fellow starters Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and Matt Brash can feel considerably less pressure now to go as deep as they can into games to save the bullpen; if your team only needs to use 2-3 relievers per game, the bullpen can stay fresh all season long.
Robbie Ray’s next start comes on Wednesday in Chicago against the White Sox, and his first home start in Seattle will come on Tuesday, April 19th, in the series opener versus the Rangers.