On a Monday night when there was not a lot of margin for error, Erasmo Ramirez and Cameron Maybin both came through, helping the Mariners to a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in front of 20,579 at Safeco Field.
Starter Erasmo Ramirez was looking to rebound.
Outfielder Cameron Maybin was looking for an elusive hit, having not had one in more than two weeks.
Done and done.
On a Monday night when there was not a lot of margin for error, Ramirez and Maybin both came through, helping the Mariners to a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in front of 20,579 at Safeco Field.
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This should have been baseball’s version of a free space.
Mark it as a win and move on.
But alas, nothing is guaranteed in this game, even when the opponent is one of the majors’ worst teams in decades and the opposing pitcher is making his second career big-league start.
The Orioles, now 40-98, and starter Josh Rogers certainly made the Mariners sweat. But in the end, Seattle got the victory it had to have, remaining 5½ games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
And that would not have been possible without a strong start from Ramirez, who allowed seven runs in three innings last week at San Diego against the Padres, another hapless team.
Ramirez looked like a completely different pitcher Monday night, allowing just one run on two hits and no walks in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five.
“I thought Erasmo threw the ball really well,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “He had a good cutter, his command was pretty good and that is what he is capable of doing.”
The only ball hit real hard against Ramirez was by Jonathan Villar leading off the fourth inning. Villar homered off the right-field foul pole, but the Mariners’ starter quickly righted himself.
“The only difference between this game and the last one is that I was throwing better strikes and quality strikes,” said Ramirez, who has to avoid the middle of the plate to be effective. “And the main part was attack the hitters.”
Ramirez did that, throwing quality strike after quality strike.
The Mariners, meanwhile, were flummoxed by Rogers through three innings, getting just one hit. But they took advantage of some help in the bottom of the fourth when Rogers issued consecutive one-out walks to Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.
Ryon Healy followed with a run-scoring single, but made a base-running blunder trying to stretch it into a double and was easily thrown out. And Cruz was left stranded at third after Kyle Seager grounded out sharply to first base.
The Mariners took the lead in the fifth as Maybin led off with a triple to right field and scored on Dee Gordon’s sacrifice fly to left field.
Maybin was an unlikely hero, having played himself out of the regular starting lineup when he failed to produce consistently after the Mariners acquired him from the Florida Marlins right before the trade deadline on July 31.
Maybin entered the game on an 0-for-20 skid and had not had a hit since Aug. 17. But he had hits in his first two plate appearances, including the triple that set up the winning run.
“He had kind of been in a funk the past two weeks,” Servais said of Maybin. “He went out and was aggressive, which we talked to him about: ‘Let it rip. If you see something you like, let it rip.’ I thought he was really aggressive tonight … It was nice ballgame for him.”
There wasn’t much else going on offensively for Seattle. Rogers allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings, and the bullpen was even better, allowing just one hit with the help of some fine defensive plays.
“Offensively, we didn’t get a whole lot going, but we hit some balls better later in the game but they made some nice plays,” Servais said.
Servais pulled Ramirez after just 77 pitches, but the Mariners’ bullpen made the manager look very smart as Zach Duke, Nick Vincent, Alex Colume and Edwin Diaz combined on 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Diaz picked up his 52nd save, striking out the side in the ninth.
Servais said he felt it was the right time to go to his bullpen, giving Duke a chance to enter the game with no one on base.
“Bullpen was really solid tonight, obviously,” Servais said. “Duke, it was really nice to get him in there, and it was a productive outing. Vinny (Vincent) has been on a nice roll recently, and those two guys (Colume and Diaz) at the back are really good.”
The Mariners have two more games against the Orioles as part of an eight-game home stand.
“It was a good way to start the home stand and we got to keep it rolling,” Servais said.