By Meg Wochnick Staff writer
SEATTLE -- Erasmo Ramirez has graciously accepted his role for the 2014 Seattle Mariners. A once-every-fifth-day starter has turned into a fill-in role, a spot starter like
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in Sunday’s series finale with the Chicago White Sox. That’s what happens when stringing together consistency has been an inconsistent all year, which has him yo-yo-ing 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 as to why he was pulled after 4 1/3 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?
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 Aug. 7.
“He elevated his pitches in that inning (the fifth),” McClendon said. “I thought it was time to go to the bullpen.”
Ramirez’s 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 falling behind 2-1 to Gordon Beckham with one out in the fifth. Three pitches later, with Dominic Leone in relief, he 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, a move 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 lead-off walk to Alejandro De Aza to open the game, he kept his
pitch count low (had 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 Angels. Instead, he got his sixth no-decision in his last 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 accounted for all four runs and notched his first three-hit game since July 11. His bases-clearing double in the second gave Seattle (62-55) its 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, who exited after 6 1/3. 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.
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’ 8th-inning solo home run to left off Tom Wilhelmsen and Conor Gillespie’s 9th-inning RBI single off Fernando Rodney.
[caption id="attachment_30850" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Austin Jackson went 3-for-4 Sunday off White Sox starter John Danks, and now is a career .428 hitter (21-for-49) off Danks. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)[/caption]