Rod Barajas suffered a 6-3 loss Friday in the Padres' first visit to Arizona since he took over as San Diego manager, but his good memories of his opposing team -- and his sense of humor -- were unharmed.
Barajas played five seasons with the Diamondbacks after signing as a free agent in 1996, and one of his biggest moments came when he homered off Yankees right-hander Mike Mussina on a 1-2 knuckle curve in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, which Arizona won in seven games despite losing that fifth game.
"In Yankee Stadium, when Mussina got two strikes on somebody, everybody starts chanting 'Moose, Moose,'" Barajas said. "He threw it right into my bat speed. I had curve-ball bat speed, a big loop in my swing. I was able to lift it up into the seats."
Earlier, Barajas acknowledged in a more serious vein: "This is home for me. This is my stadium initially. There is a very special place in my heart for Arizona."
The Diamondbacks (83-77) won the first game of the series on Jake Lamb's three-run pinch-homer to cap a four-run eighth, and they will send left-hander Robbie Ray (12-8, 4.28 ERA) to face Garrett Richards (0-1, 11.81) on Saturday.
Richards will make his third start of the season as he returns from Tommy John surgery in July 2018. Biceps and elbow issues limited him to 28 starts with the Angels from 2016-18 before he finally elected to have surgery. He is among the candidates for the 2020 starting rotation.
Ray, the Diamondbacks' nominal No. 1 since the trade of Zack Greinke, will set his career high with his 33rd start, and will set a career high in innings if he gets one out in the seventh inning Saturday. He has thrown 168 1/3 innings this season; his career high is 174 1/3 set in 2016.
Ray already has set a career high with 225 strikeouts, surpassing his previous high of 218 when he fanned 10 Padres in his most recent start on Sept. 22.
Ray's 81 walks are also a career-high, however, and he is averaging 4.3 per nine innings. The Diamondbacks would like to see further refinement as Ray enters his final season of arbitration eligibility in 2020.
"The strikeouts are going to come for Robbie, no matter what. I don't ever want to lose focus on that," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "Just know that he is a power lefty that is fairly rare in this game, but continue to grow and learn, discover what it takes to lead a staff.
"Discover want it takes to have consistent outings, even on your worst day ... maybe certain days to pitch instead of throw. The days when it is feeling good, you can blow it by anybody, so be as versatile as he can through the good and bad days. Those are things he is working through right now. To be more consistent."
Ray is 5-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 15 career starts against the Padres, and he is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA, nine walks and 13 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings in two outings this season. He is 6-2 in 12 home starts this season.
Richards has not completed the fourth inning in either appearance this season. The Diamondbacks tagged him for four hits including an Adam Jones homer and four runs in 1 2/3 innings on Sept. 22, when he also faced Ray.
--Field Level Media
Ray, Richards meet again as D-backs host Padres
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