The M’s starter began the season with Tampa Bay and he allowed one run over six innings as Seattle won 7-1.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — He had to wait out a replay delay of just under two minutes to verify that the final out of his outing was official.
But when Erasmo Ramirez was finally able to walk off the mound at Tropicana Field following six innings of solid pitching, he did something that hasn’t happened enough for the Mariners this season — deliver a quality outing of more than five innings.
Facing the team that he started the season with, Ramirez allowed just one run on two hits over six innings to lead the Mariners to a 7-1 win over the Rays on Friday night.
M’s @ Rays, 3:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
Seattle moved back over .500 at 62-61 with a 20-9 record in its last 29 games away from Safeco Field. The Mariners have 11 more games in 12 days on the road trip.
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“Really nice effort by Erasmo Ramirez tonight, coming back and pitching against his old team,” manager Scott Servais said. “He threw the ball really well, located well and had a good cutter going.”
And Ramirez did it against the team he had been with the last two seasons before being traded back to Seattle in July.
“It just feels weird,” he said. “It’s been no more than a month. But in my mind, it was no matter where you go, just execute. We are fighting for the playoffs. So I can’t just come here and give it up. I’ve got a lot of friends on the other side, but I have to play for my team at the moment.”
His only trouble came in the second when he loaded the bases with one out. But he got a pair of fly balls to end the inning without allowing a run.
“I don’t know what I did,” he said. “I just followed the catcher (Mike Zunino). He came to the mound and I told him to just call the pitches and I will execute the best I can. And I followed him. He made the right calls and I executed, and I got out of that inning.”
Ramirez’s start was just the 56th time in 123 games that a Mariners’ starting pitcher delivered at least six innings. It was just the 25th time a Mariners starter had pitched at least six complete innings while allowing one run or less.
He was the last starter to do both, pitching six innings and allowing one run on three hits against the Angels in his previous outing. It was a game the Mariners would lose thanks to a bullpen meltdown from Casey Lawrence and Tony Zych.
But this time, the Mariners had provided more than enough run support to allow a rested bullpen to work without trepidation. Seattle banged out 14 hits and improved to 57-19 in games in which it scores four or more runs.
James Pazos gave the Mariners 21/3 innings of shutout relief, and Emilio Pagan notched the final two outs.
Seattle jumped on Tampa starter Austin Pruitt, scoring three runs in the first inning. Nelson Cruz hammered an RBI double to center, and Kyle Seager and Danny Valencia each drove in runs.
Mike Zunino tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning with a display of his freakish strength.
With runners on second and third and one out, Zunino got behind in the count 1-2. Not wanting to strike out, he made a lunging swing on a breaking ball that spun low and away out of the strike zone. He was able to get the barrel to the ball and make decent contact. For most hitters, it might be a fly ball to right or even a soft liner. But Zunino’s swing produced a ball that hit off the wall in deep right center.
“Mike has a lot of power,” Servais said. “Big at-bat in the game. He’s got two strikes and you have to pick up at least one and he ends up driving them both in. Mike’s starting to get that feel back that he had in June.”
The most memorable run of the night came in the top of the ninth. Facing right-hander Brad Boxberger, Cruz crushed a 0-1 fastball deep into the upper deck in left field.
“I think the day off helped,” said Cruz, who had two doubles and a homer. “I squared it up pretty good.”
For about the fifth time in the MLB Statcast era, Cruz hit a ball so far and hard that it didn’t immediately register in its advanced measuring system.
MLB later issued a distance on the homer that credited Statcast with measuring it at 482 feet, making it the longest homer in Tropicana Field history.
“Cool,” Cruz said. “Do they give you a prize for that?”