The Seattle Mariners were fortunate enough to extend their win streak to five games Tuesday night. They sent starter Erasmo Ramirez to the mound, and despite him still exhibiting terrible control, he managed to extend his own individual streak of scoreless innings pitched to 19.2. It ended when he served up a two-run home run to Boston Red Sox right fielder Brock Holt in the fourth inning.
Ramirez has been an anomaly for Seattle. Don’t let the numbers fool you, because the peripherals are not pretty. In his last four starts since the scoreless streak began, he has not been close to the Mariners’ best starting pitcher. Ramirez pitched into the sixth inning only once over his last four outings, and walked 16 batters across those 20.1 innings.
Tonight against the Red Sox, Ramirez was no better. Manager Lloyd McClendon pulled him in the fifth inning after surrendering his fifth free pass of the ball game. It’s no wonder that during his scoreless streak, Ramirez has not earned a single decision. His pitch count gets alarmingly high early in games, and visits to the mound by his catcher or pitching coach Rick Waits have become pretty standard during a Ramirez outing. Thanks to formidable defense and sporting the best bullpen ERA in the entire AL, the Mariners have managed to stay competitive in games Ramirez starts.
It would be surprising to see Ramirez make more than one more start for the Mariners this season, pending any future injuries. Every outing is a battle for him — more so one against himself than with his opposition. He should soon be moved to the bullpen, or possibly even sent on assignment.
Taijuan Walker pitched a four-hit shutout Tuesday evening for the Tacoma Rainiers in Triple-A. Now that he is healthy, and appears to have also shaken off any rust, it’s only a matter of time until the younger, more talented prospect supplants the sporadic Ramirez in the M’s rotation.