All those who clamored for the Seattle Mariners to acquire a starting pitching at the trade deadline?
They got one. His name is Mito.
Well, that’s his Players Weekend nickname, but Erasmo Ramirez has allowed two runs in three starts since returning off of the disabled list for an Aug. 12 start.
The right-hander allowed one run in six innings with six strikeouts in the Seattle Mariners’ 6-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday to end the Mariners’ two-game losing skid.
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He was actually acquired at the trade deadline last year, but with the Mariners entering Friday with the third-highest ERA in baseball this month his three starts have been a much-needed jolt of energy. The rest of the rotation has been in shambles with 33 games remaining in the regular season.
“We’d been struggling to get that kind of start recently and he’s been pretty consistent since he came back,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters after the game. “He keeps us right there in the ball game. We made some errors or otherwise it should have been 6-1. But really nice game.”
So Ramirez got his first win of the season and Edwin Diaz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to set the Mariners’ all-time single-season saves record with his 49th of the year.
And the Mariners (73-56) remained four games back of the Oakland Athletics for the American League’s final wild card.
Ramirez got plenty of run support with a four-run third inning and home runs from Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino for a 6-1 lead entering the bottom of the sixth.
Ramirez got the first two outs in the sixth, but newly converted first baseman Robinson Cano was unable to dig short-hop throws from Jean Segura and Dee Gordon with two runs scoring.
That inning was it for Ramirez after 85 pitches and he’s lowered his season ERA to 4.56 after it was at 10.24 following two late-April starts, when he had first come off the disabled list.
But that’s when Ramirez’s fastball was struggling to sit in the high 80s. He’s since rediscovered his low-90s version, and the Mariners had all the time to let him recover from his right Teres Major strain because their rotation of James Paxton, Marco Gonzales, Wade LeBlanc, Mike Leake and Felix Hernandez had for the most part carried them.
Now Paxton is on the disabled list (he threw an encouraging bullpen session Friday in Arizona), Gonzales and LeBlanc have struggled, Leake missed his most recent start with an illness and Hernandez was sent to the bullpen and called back out.
So, yeah, they’ve needed this from Ramirez.
“He’s doing it the same way we saw last year when he got on a good run,” Servais said. “He’s sinking the ball and he’s got a cutter and the changeup is very good. And it’s a pitcher’s advantage sometimes when you’re facing a team and they don’t really know you that well. He made some pitches, though, against the middle of a lineup that’s been really hot.”
And they needed electric Edwin Diaz and Dee Gordon as well as Haniger’s hot bat, which they also got Friday night.
A few takeaways:
How bout a haircut?
Edwin Diaz now has more saves in one season than any pitcher in Seattle Mariners history, passing Fernando Rodney with his 49th this year.
And it’s not even September.
He now needs one more save for the most-anticipated haircut in Seattle. Manager Scott Servais made a bet with Diaz much earlier in the season that he would get the same haircut as Diaz, with the waves shaved into the side of his head, if Diaz saved 50 games this season.
“If I do it here on the road I will bring the barber to wherever we are playing,” Diaz proclaimed. “So we’ll see what happens. But if I get it tomorrow, we would get it in San Diego. So he has to be ready for the haircut.”
No major league closer is even close to Diaz’s saves mark. Boston’s Crag Kimbrel is second in baseball behind Diaz with 37 saves. Diaz also entered Friday ranking among major-league relievers in strikeouts, behind Brewers All-Star Josh Hader.
When Devaris Gordon is at his best, he’s doing one-man game-changing stuff like he did in the third inning of this one.
He hit a leadoff double off the wall in right-center in the third inning and D-Backs pitcher Zack Godley threw a pitch just off the plate to the next batter, Mitch Haniger.
Catcher Alex Avila gently lobbed the ball back to the mound, and Gordon most certainly noticed this on a scouting report because he took off to third base immediately on the throw.
Godley seemed surprised and threw wildly to third base, so Gordon scampered home for the first run.
“I can’t tell you my secrets, or else they don’t work,” Gordon said. “You got to pick them at the right time, though, and I was able to pick the right one and it worked out.”
That set off a chain of five hits in six at-bats (the only out being pitcher Erasmo Ramirez’s strikeout) and a four-run Mariners inning.
Jean Segura hit an RBI single to score Haniger after Robinson Cano’s single, Denard Span followed with an RBI double and Kyle Seager followed with a sacrifice fly.
Entering the day, Mitch Haniger trailed only the Braves’ Ronald Acuna and Red Sox’ Mookie Betts for best on-base plus slugging (1.044) among players with at least 55 at-bats in a leadoff role.
It’s not like he completely altered his swing in the move to leadoff, but whatever he’s done, it’s working.
He hit his second home run in as many games – this one against his former team – with a solo shot in the top of the fifth inning, and that was his third hit in as many at-bats in the game.
Haniger’s homer was his 21st of the season. You might recall that he hit 10 of his homers in the first month of the season.
Since the Mariners began batting Haniger leadoff over the past 14 games, Haniger is batting .383 (23-for-60) and went 3-for-5 in this one.