Erasmo Ramirez has graciously accepted his role for this season’s Seattle Mariners. A once-every-fifth-day starter has turned into a fill-in role, a spot starter like in Sunday’s series finale with the Chicago White Sox. That’s what happens when stringing together consistency has been inconsistent all year, causing Ramirez to yo-yo between the big leagues and minors.
But inconsistency was not to blame for Ramirez this time around. The 24-year-old was just as surprised as many of the announced crowd of 27,236 who watched the Mariners’ 4-2 victory over the White Sox as to why he was pulled after 41/3 scoreless innings with a 3-0 lead, giving up just four hits on 68 pitches.
He wasn’t hurt, nor was he laboring. So what was it?
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he felt Ramirez was "out of gas" particularly after starting on short rest; he pitched two innings at Triple-A Tacoma on Aug. 7.
"He elevated his pitches in that inning (the fifth)," McClendon said. "I thought it was time to go to the bullpen."
Ramirez lowered his ERA from 4.35 to 4.06, and wasn’t expecting a visit from McClendon so soon, nor mid-batter.
Still, he respected McClendon’s decision after he fell behind 2-1 to Gordon Beckham with one out in the fifth inning.
Three pitches later reliever Dominic Leone (5-2), who also earned the win, got Beckham to ground into a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play to end the threat.
"That inning," Ramirez said, "I was a little under the ball ... but I still felt good. Everything about the game is about a win. If he sees an opportunity to bring in a reliever, it’s more of a chance to win a game."
Recalled just hours prior to Sunday’s start to fill the void left by pushing Felix Hernandez’s start back one day to Monday’s series opener against Toronto, Ramirez showed what he’s capable of, breezing through the first four innings on 54 pitches.
Following a leadoff walk to Alejandro De Aza to open the game, he kept his pitch count low (14 or fewer pitches thrown in three out of four innings), got two double plays from his defense, and all four hits allowed were singles, including two by Adam Dunn.
Had Ramirez gone the required five innings to be the pitcher of record, he would’ve won his first big-league start since April 1 when he went seven strong in an 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Instead, he got his sixth no-decision in his past seven Seattle starts, and following the game, was optioned back to Tacoma.
Ramirez got run support early, courtesy of Austin Jackson, who noted he’s starting to find his groove as a Mariner. He drove in all four runs and notched his first three-hit game since July 11.
His bases-clearing double in the second inning gave Seattle a 3-0 lead, and followed it up with an RBI double in the seventh to push the lead to 4-0. Jackson is now hitting .428 (21-for-49) lifetime off White Sox starter John Danks (9-8), who exited after 61/3 innings. Danks provided, in part, a light-hearted approach to figuring out Jackson.
"I thought about taking my glove off and firing one in right-handed just to give him another look," Danks said.
Rookie Seattle shortstop Chris Taylor, who finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored, notched his fourth multi-hit game since his major league debut July 24 and now has hit safely in all 12 starts.
Both Chicago runs were given up by the bullpen. Flowers hit a solo home run to left in the eighth inning off Tom Wilhelmsen and Conor Gillaspie had a RBI single in the ninth off closer Fernando Rodney.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473