The Mariners made it all but official that Ariel Miranda will join the Mariners’ rotation on Wednesday in Kansas City against the Royals.
That was supposed to be Erasmo Ramirez, until he strained his latissimus dorsi muscle in his back during spring training. Ramirez was scheduled to pitch a rehab start for high Single-A Modesto Saturday night in Lancaster, California.
So, at least for a start or two, Miranda will head to the Mariners’ rotation.
“That was the plan all along,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said before their game against the Twins on Saturday. “We’ll probably go toward him when we need that fifth starter.”
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Miranda, a left-hander, was scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Tacoma on Friday, but with a poor weather forecast, he was instead sent to warmer weather in California – same with outfielder Ben Gamel (oblique) and Ramirez.
Miranda earned the win pitching for Modesto on Friday allowing five runs (one earned) on seven hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Miranda is certainly used to this situation, replacing an injured starter, based off of last year. He was supposed to be the Rainiers’ No. 1 starter a season ago but he ended up finishing as the Mariners’ most-used pitcher in 2017. He led the club with 160 innings pitched because of their myriad injuries to pitchers.
Miranda was reliable at the start of the season, but faltered late. The Mariners blamed that on overuse as he finished 8-7 with a 5.12 ERA in 29 starts. But of pitchers who threw at least 60 innings for the Mariners, Miranda was just behind closer Edwin Diaz and left-hander James Paxton in opponent batting average (.233).
As for other injured Mariners:
The Mariners are still doing the play-it-slow game with catcher Mike Zunino as he recovered from a strained oblique. Servais said they believe he should be ready by the time the Mariners return to Seattle off this road trip on Friday against the Athletics.
“You just want to make sure he’s comfortable and not prohibited,” Servais said. “The biggest thing coming back from an oblique sometimes is the swing and miss. You want to make sure he’s OK there. But as far as game at-bats, (he’ll need) maybe a game or two.”
Zunino injured his oblique during a swing in batting practice the day before Opening Day.
Ben Gamel is also recovering from an oblique injury, but he’s been playing with Modesto, starting the season 2-for-6 and scoring on each of the four times he’s reached base.
And Nelson Cruz (sprained ankle) is expected to resume baseball activity and Servais said the same for him, that they’re targeting Friday’s start to their homestand for his return to the lineup.
“There’s a chance we could get close to having three of our projected starters back by then,” Servais said, talking about Cruz, Gamel and Zunino. “But it’s just a chance. We’ll wait and see.”
CHILLY IN MINNY
It was 27 degrees by the first pitch of Saturday’s Mariners-Twins matchup at Target Field in Minneapolis – and there was a 12-mph wind chill.
It was being called one of the coldest games in baseball history, just warmer than the first-pitch temperature of 23 degrees when Colorado hosted Atlanta in 2013.
It was the coldest game the Mariners have played in at least 30 years, according to available data from Baseball-Reference.com.
Eight games around baseball had already been postponed this season because of snow or cold weather.
But there was Kyle Seager, taking ground balls beforehand at third base while wearing a T-shirt and shorts. And Mariners reliever Dan Altavilla got two outs in the sixth inning with his forearms bare and exposed to the cold.
Seager hit his first home run of the season later in the game – almost literally a frozen rope.
Ryon Healy ended a 1-for-21 skid to start the year by smoking a three-run double, and then Guillermo Heredia followed with his first home run. The Mariners might consider freezing temperatures more often.
The Mariners could start the season without a series loss if they finish their trip in Minnesota with one more win. Left-hander Marco Gonzales (1-0, 4.26 ERA) will make his second start, facing Twins RHP Lance Lynn (1-0, 11.25 ERA) in a 11:10 a.m. game Sunday. The game will broadcast on Root Sports and air on 710-AM.