Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is looking at the bigger picture in deciding to bypass Felix Hernandez in this three-game series finale in favor of Erasmo Ramirez.
Ramirez will be back with the Mariners when he looks to end a 12-start winless drought Wednesday against the visiting Texas Rangers.
Seattle (72-59) owns a one-half game lead over Detroit for the AL’s second wild-card spot and it is Hernandez’s turn to pitch. However, with an off day Thursday, McClendon chose to give his ace two extra days of rest and hand the ball to Ramirez for his first start since Aug. 10.
"Last month I managed for September," McClendon told MLB’s official website. "This month I’m trying to manage for October, and I’m trying to keep the big picture in mind."
Ramirez (1-5, 4.06 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma for his sixth stint with the club. He won his first start April 1 over the Los Angeles Angels before going 0-5 with a 4.24 ERA in his next dozen.
"I think he’s done a nice job. We’ve called him up a couple times and he’s pitched well for us," McClendon said. "He’s given us opportunities to win ballgames."
McClendon is correct about the right-hander’s six starts in Seattle, where Ramirez is 0-3 despite a 2.84 ERA. Ramirez has no record with a 6.43 ERA in two outings against Texas this year.
Seattle evened this series with its 15th victory in 20 games Tuesday, 5-0. James Paxton pitched 6 2-3 innings, Robinson Cano homered and Endy Chavez drove in two runs.
”We’re focused, we’re playing good baseball,” Chavez said. ”We just need to continue to do that.”
Chavez played right field in place of Chris Denorfia, scratched with a stiff neck.
Cano is 4 for 8 this year off Colby Lewis (8-11, 5.54), who starts Wednesday after posting a 5.82 ERA in losing his last three outings. Lewis is 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA in three starts against the Mariners this year.
One positive Wednesday for Lewis is that every outing of his slide was at home. He is 6-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 10 road starts compared to 2-8 with a 7.17 ERA in Arlington.
The Mariners, who already have one more win than they did in 2013, own the AL’s second-best day record at 26-17.
Third baseman Kyle Seager needs one homer to reach 20 for the third consecutive season and join Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Presley as the only Mariners with at least that many in three of their first four years.
Cano is fourth in majors with a .326 average to rank one spot behind the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, who is hitting .327 overall and is 17 for 37 in his last 10 games.
Texas (51-80) continues to look to the future with outfield prospect Michael Choice going 0 for 4 on Tuesday in his return to the big leagues. He was sent to the minors on July 7 after batting .177 in 69 games and says that he is eager to prove himself.
"Obviously my stats will be on the board but I’m not going to pay attention to that," he said. "I’m taking the approach that we’re starting from scratch and it is a whole new season."