One night after a 10-3 Opening Day victory over division rival the Los Angeles Angels, the Seattle Mariners handed the ball to 23-year-old Erasmo Ramirez to lead the charge that staff ace Felix Hernandez began the night before. Led by Ramirez, the Mariners beat the Angels 8-3.
As the most experienced of three young pitchers lining the middle of the Mariners’ rotation, bookended by the royal Hernandez at the top and veteran Chris Young at the bottom, it’s particularly important that Ramirez starts the season strong to help the team establish a rotation rhythm.
Ramirez skillfully handled the stacked Angels lineup, showing efficiency and a characteristic command with his pitches. In seven innings, he gave up two runs on six hits, walking none and striking out six.
The Angels got to Ramirez just once, in the bottom of the fourth inning when Ramirez gave up a double to Josh Hamilton and a home run to veteran Raul Ibañez, who made his major league debut less than a month before Ramirez’s ninth birthday. A coaching visit to the mound tried to calm down the young hurler, but two more Angels reached base before Ramirez struck out Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun to end the inning.
Winning the first two games of a season feels great to a franchise and a fanbase, but it’s also important to remember that 2014 is more than the first two games in April. The season is still young and there is a lot of baseball yet to be played. But in Seattle, where baseball success is a long time coming and the arrival of the Houston Astros to the AL West last year served as the only thing that saved the Mariners from last place, any hope will do.
This year’s Mariners show the suitable spark to take note.