A first for Ramirez and a rarity for Gutierrez
By Shannon Drayer
Erasmo Ramirez finally got another look as a starter and he made the most of his opportunity. Ramirez went seven innings, allowing just two runs on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts in the Mariners’ 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.
While it will be tough for him to win a job for next year with just a few weeks to go, there are questions he can answer and on Tuesday he picked up where he left off before being shut down with an injury.
Manager Eric Wedge was pleased with what he saw.
“He pitched a fantastic ballgame out there,” Wedge said. “We saw it the final two starts before he got hurt, we saw it the inning the other day and then we saw it again tonight. He just did a great job for us.”
Erasmo Ramirez pitched seven innings against Toronto on Tuesday for his first major league win. (AP)
After giving up two runs early, Ramirez settled down and did not let a runner advance past second. In the seventh, Kelly Johnson reached on a rare two-base error (more on that below) by Franklin Gutierrez. Ramirez got the next two outs but then walked the nine hitter, which brought Brett Lawrie up to the plate.
I was curious to see what Wedge would do in that situation as Lawrie was the go-ahead run. Would Wedge go to the pen for the final out in what looked to be Ramirez’s last inning or would he leave him in there to see what he did in that situation?
He left him in and Lawrie flew out to center.
“I felt like he was still in control there,” Wedge said of leaving Ramirez in. “He bowed his neck, he turned it up a notch, but there is a lot of emotion there, too, so we felt that was enough for him his first start back the way he had to leave that runner out there, he did a great job.”
I caught up with Ramirez for my on-field interview after the game and he was thrilled to get his first win. He stayed in the dugout for the eighth and ninth innings and said he was nervous watching and that he could feel the pressure the string of relievers and Tom Wilhelmsen must have felt.
As for the win, which was his first big league win, he said that he would struggle to find words to tell his family about the day and thanked his team for helping him out and getting him some runs. He was clearly thrilled and said he was looking forward to an opportunity to get win number two.
So a first for Ramirez and a once-in-a-blue-moon for Gutierrez as we saw a rare error from him. How rare? When he missed a ball near the wall that he appeared to have all the way he snapped an American League record streak of 846 consecutive chances without an error. He went a record 301 games between errors.
“I have no excuses for that play,” he said. “I was running on my heels and when you do that your head moves. I still need to make that catch. It just happened.”
Gutierrez handled the explanation with his usual cool and calm demeanor. It just happened. He knows why and he won’t dwell on it. Who knows when we will see it again.
I talked with Gutierrez on “Beyond the Baselines” before the game and will have more on him Wednesday. As I have said before, if he can stay healthy I think he fills a huge need for this team. I have never been quite sure what he is offensively; he has been so up and down from year to year. But there are reasons for that and more than ever I think there is a good chance he is closest to his best year in 2009. And like other young players on this team, I think he is still growing and improving.
Moving on. In several of the comments on my blog as well as emails and Twitter, people have expressed their displeasure at seeing various players still in the lineup or rotation. Justin Smoak’s name has come up quite a bit and you should notice that he has not been in the starting lineup as much recently. Wedge wants to give Mike Carp more of a look and is running out of opportunities as the season runs down.
What about some of the recent callups? A number of you want to see more of them. I don’t see that happening a whole lot. Wedge has said that his intention is to put the best lineups out to win games until the end of the year, despite the fact that there are new faces with the team now. That doesn’t mean that we won’t see the callups but it appears that he would like to see how the guys that have been here for the better part of the year respond at the end of a season.
“You got to finish it,” he said of the remainder of the season. “You can’t look to the finish line, you have got to look through it. From our standpoint here in September, playing all the teams we are playing that are in it, they are all fighting for something. Our attitude has got to be that we are fighting for something, too, and that’s every win we have the rest of the year marks a different level of improvement off of last year.
“That has to mean something for all of us because we are still building for our championship future and this September is a part of that.”
One last note and it is a travel note: The Toronto International Film Festival is underway here and it is a big one with numerous celebrities in town. In previous years there have been U2 and Rolling Stones sightings in or around the team hotel. This year Johnny Depp and Bill Murray are among the celebrities I have heard stories about as well as Sofia Vergara, with whom a media relations rep is pretty sure he rode in an elevator. Something different, something fun.