ARLINGTON, Texas — Seattle Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez had five days to prepare for his start Tuesday against the Texas Rangers.
Ramirez, who was acquired Friday by Seattle from the Tampa Bay Rays for right-hander Steve Cishek, has a huge advantage over Texas’ starter. Nick Martinez gets the ball in place of right-hander Yu Darvish, who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
Martinez (3-3, 4.56 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Monday and was officially named the starter after the Rangers’ 6-4 loss to Seattle in the series opener Monday night.
Ramirez (4-3, 4.80 ERA) started eight games for Tampa Bay this year among his 26 appearances. Now he is happy to be back with a playoff contender and his original major league organization.
He believes his time with the Rays (2015-17) made him a better pitcher.
“I learned a lot,” Ramirez told the Seattle Times. “I used my changeup more, but at the same time don’t be afraid to throw the other pitches no matter who is hitting. Everything was about attacking the hitters, no matter who it is. Execute. That’s what matters. That’s what I want to continue here.”
Ramirez is familiar with the Rangers from both his time with Seattle and Tampa Bay. He is 0-1 with one save and a 6.06 ERA vs. Texas in 14 games, five of them starts. He already faced the Rangers three times this year, once as a starter and twice as a reliever. In 4 1/3 innings, he allowed four runs.
While Ramirez will start the game, he won’t pitch long. Manager Scott Servais said Monday that the 27-year-old Nicaraguan would be on a pitch count of between 60 and 80 pitches because he is not stretched out. He hasn’t pitched more than three innings since June 21, when he lasted 5 1/3 innings in his most recent start, and he hasn’t thrown more than 37 pitches in an outing in that span.
The Rangers, meanwhile, opted to go with Martinez over right-hander A.J. Griffin, who is still rehabbing from a left intercostal strain.
This will be Martinez’s second stint with Texas in 2017. He opened the season in Triple-A and came up in April, making 14 appearances (12 starts). Martinez, who is 0-2 with a 3.63 ERA in his career against Seattle, lost his rotation spot when Tyson Ross was added to the starting staf.
Martinez was solid for Round Rock, going 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA, and he didn’t allow a run in his past two starts. But how far he can go remains to be seen, too. He had been on the minor league disabled list since June 21 with a sore right forearm.
While the Rangers are 5 1/2 games back in the wild-card picture and they just traded their best pitcher, Texas manager Jeff Banister doesn’t think the club has given up on the playoffs this year.
“I don’t care what anybody else thinks, says, does,” Banister said. “You can write whatever you want to, but we still have games to play, and we’re still in a fight. Until they tell us that we’re not in the fight anymore, we’re still in the fight. And I relish the fact that some of this is going to go down as well that the Rangers are now not part of the equation.”