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Robbie Ray will start NLDS Game 2 for Diamondbacks

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The Diamondbacks as expected will start Robbie Ray in Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday, just three days after the left-hander threw 34 pitches and pitched 2⅓ innings in relief in the National League wild card game.

It was the only realistic play for Arizona if Ray felt anywhere close to full strength, since it keeps him in line to potentially start a Game 5 on regular rest, and leaves Game 3 for Zack Greinke, who started the wild card game on Wednesday.

Ray was 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers this season, with 53 strikeouts. He has a 1.81 ERA in seven career starts at Dodger Stadium, including 0.92 in three starts in 2017.

“The atmosphere here is different, and the fans are loud,” Ray said. “It’s pitching against the best team in baseball, so I you obviously want to bring your A-game, your best stuff.”

The Diamondbacks had Ray throw on Thursday and he came out of it well, which finalized the decision to start him on Saturday.

“I think he probably would have told me if he wasn’t feeling exactly perfect,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “Within three or four minutes I could tell by the look in his eyes that he wanted the ball tomorrow, and he was ready.”

Wednesday was Ray’s first relief appearance since Sept. 27, 2014. It was also his normal throw day in between starts. He had an abbreviated tuneup start on the final day of the regular season, throwing just 23 pitches on Sunday. He said there was no doubt in his mind he would be ready for Saturday after his relief appearance on Wednesday.

“I want the ball every game, honestly,” Ray said. “I mean, if you didn’t, you probably shouldn’t be here. But I was going to get myself as ready as possible for this game.

Game 4, if necessary, is still undecided for the Diamondbacks, and could depend how the bullpen is used in these first few games.

“We’re expecting some dog fightsout there and some really, really strong battles,” Lovullo said. “We’re going to use every bit of force that we possibly can to make sure that we take care of today. So where that lands us on Game 4, we’re not sure at this point.”