Erasmo Ramirez’s fastball normally travels much faster than 85 miles per hour.
He wasn’t hurling it in his typical mid-90s average during the Tacoma Rainiers’ 4-3 victory against the Tucson Padres on Wednesday at Cheney Stadium – not like he did for the Seattle Mariners before heading to the disabled list July 1 because of an injured right elbow.
“When I first went out there, my elbow was feeling a little cold,” Ramirez said. “I was just like, ‘C’mon, you got to warm up.’ ”
Ramirez said he compensated by throwing more breaking balls. He is known more for his 93 mph fastball than for his slider or curveball, but he worked his breaking pitches well in his first rehab start.
He reached his 50-pitch limit in three innings. He gave up two hits, struck out four and did not allow a run.
“I’m just focusing on having good command and mixing my pitches,” said Ramirez, whose fastball was measured at 85 mph on the stadium radar gun in the first inning but reached 90 mph in the third. “I tried to push myself more each inning and throw more breaking balls, and my elbow wasn’t hurting, so I feel happy about that.”
The Rainiers took a 2-0 lead in the first. Darren Ford had the first of his two stolen bases, and Nick Franklin drove him in with a single.
Franklin later scored on a Luis Jimenez groundout. Jimenez added an RBI single in the fifth to drive in Ford and give Tacoma a 4-0 lead.
The Padres cut the lead to one on a three-run home run by Jesus Merchan in the seventh and would have added more if not for an acrobatic diving play from pitcher Chance Ruffin.
Runners reached second and third on first baseman Justin Smoak’s first error since being demoted to the Rainiers, and Ruffin threw a pitch that got by catcher Brandon Bantz.
Bantz quickly retrieved the ball near the backstop and tossed it to a charging Ruffin, who slid as he caught it and reached to tag Robert Kral in front of the plate – preventing what would have been the tying run.
“I like getting the out, but I’d rather it not be that way,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said.
Bobby LaFromboise relieved Ruffin and earned a two-inning save without allowing a hit.
Smoak is 1-for-5 with five walks since joining the Rainiers. … Alex Liddi’s double in the eighth ended an 0-for-18 slump.
D.J. Mitchell, acquired by Seattle from the New York Yankees in the Ichiro Suzuki trade, will make his first start with the Rainiers today against probable Tucson starter Colt Hynes (4-8, 6.52 ERA). The 7:05 p.m. game will be on 850-AM.