Erasmo Ramirez battles his way past Mariners' expectations
Ramirez earned four starts instead of his originally scheduled two down the stretch and pitched well in each of them.
Seattle Times staff reporter
OAKLAND, Calif. — One of the brighter spots for the Mariners this second half finished off his season the way he began it: by battling.
Erasmo Ramirez surprised everybody by making the team out of spring training and then caused a stir again in September by impressing the team enough to earn twice as many starts as anticipated. The Mariners gave Ramirez four starts instead of his originally scheduled two and he didn't let them down, going at least six innings in each without allowing more than three earned runs in any.
Ramirez closed out 2012 by tossing 6-1/3 innings of two-run ball here on Sunday, allowing the Mariners to tie it up after falling behind 2-0 in the opening frame.
"It wasn't an easy last game," Ramirez said. "But sometimes you've got to overcome a bad first inning. It puts more pressure on you during the game because you know your team is losing already and you have to keep it close.
"After that inning, I was just focusing on throwing down in the zone and not thinking too seriously about the fact we were losing. I was trying to stay aggressive and use all of my pitches because they have seven lefties in the lineup. I can't just use two pitches against lefties, I have to go with all I've got.
And Ramirez did, despite walking four batters — a season-high for a pitcher who had only walked one in his three previous outings combined. Ramirez said he wasn't sure why some of his pitches went awry like they did, but it just became something more to overcome.
• Mariners manager Eric Wedge was talking pregame about how center fielder Franklin Gutierrez still has to prove he can stay healthy enough to be counted on as an everyday player. Not long after, Gutierrez was pulled from Sunday's game with tightness in his left groin after running the bases in the third inning.
Gutierrez had legged out doubles his first two times up in the first and third innings and felt the groin tighten both times. He then felt it again scoring from second on a Kyle Seager single in the third.
Wedge said after the game that Gutierrez is day to day, then stuck by his comments about the outfielder needing to stay healthy.
"It's hard to help the ballclub when you're not on the field," Wedge said. "So, like I said, we have to find a way to get him beyond these little injuries here and there because we need him on the field."
• The Mariners saw their streak of games with at least one home run snapped at 17 on Sunday when they failed to go deep. Seattle fell one game shy of the franchise record set in 1999.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @gbakermariners