By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
SEATTLE — As the season plods its way to the end, Erasmo Ramirez is starting pitch like the starter the Seattle Mariners expected him to be at the beginning of the season.
The 23-year-old right-hander tossed six scoreless innings Sunday, giving up just four hits, while striking out five and walking four. He did his part to get the Mariners a win. The bullpen couldn’t follow in what resulted in a 4-1 loss for Seattle.
“I thought Erasmo was good,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “I just love his aggressiveness early in the game, and he’s able to hang onto it and sustain it. He used all of his pitches. His arm action. He was strong against a very good team.”
Over his last fives starts, Ramirez has allowed just eight runs 312/3 innings pitched for a 2.27 earned-run average.
Wedge has noticed some positive changes in Ramirez in the last few outings.
“I think you’ve seen a definitive difference with his confidence, with his mound presence, with his consistency,” Wedge said. “He still has moments where he tries to do a little too much and the ball gets arm-side up a little bit, but that’s to be expected for a young starting pitcher. But I like the way he reels himself back in.”
Ramirez reeled himself in from the walks on Sunday by pitching to contact.
“Every time I threw the ball I was thinking let the hitter make contact, but don’t throw it over the middle of the plate,” he said. “Just try to hit the corners and there were some good plays by my teammates.”
After a solid start to spring training, Ramirez was expected to be a part of the starting rotation. However, an elbow/triceps injury sidelined him for the first half of the season.
He returned to the big leagues on July 11 and his starts have slowly improved with each outing.
“When you come back from the injury, you are sometimes afraid to throw more breaking balls,” he said. “But when you continue throwing and throwing and feel your arm getting stronger, you start feeling like you can throw more breaking balls because you can’t go all fastballs. Your arm is getting strong and your confidence is getting better too.”
And that confidence isn’t just in his breaking ball. Ramirez’s cut fastball and changeup have also gotten better.
“What we hoped to see up here is what we saw in the minor league and it’s starting to come around now and he’s able to throw any pitch at any time with a great deal of confidence and not be too fine,” Wedge said.
Nick Franklin reached back and felt the back of his head.
“Oh yeah, there’s a good sized knot back there,” he said.
Franklin was out of the lineup a day after taking one of Justin Smoak’s knees to the back of his head while chasing down a pop fly in the sixth inning of Saturday’s win.
“He deserved it,” Smoak joked from his locker.
The collision was scary and Franklin looked like he might have been knocked out on the play, but he said he was conscious the whole time.
“It just took little while to get my senses,” he said. “Everything was kind of tingling.”
Franklin stayed in the game and came up with a big RBI double in the bottom of the inning, but Wedge decided to give him Sunday off.
“He’s fine,” Wedge said. “I appreciated the fact he stayed in the ballgame and helped us win. Obviously, the trainers took a good look at him and felt comfortable with it. If they didn’t, we would have taken him out. But the fact he stayed in there and contributed, that was impressive. That was good to see.”