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Tampa Bay Rays Game 55: Erasmo Ramirez Solid Vs. Ex-Mates

By Robbie Knopf

We are going to hear all about the swap of Erasmo Ramirez for Mike Montgomery this series as Ramirez started for the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday and Montgomery will go for the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. Ramirez set a pretty high bar for Montgomery as he delivered 5.1 good innings. Combine that with a couple of couple of seized chances with runners in scoring position and strong bullpen work, and the Rays had themselves a 2-1 victory in a vintage modern pitchers’ duel.

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Ramirez finished with 5.1 innings allowing 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. He allowed at least one baserunner in four out of his five full innings, including four when he allowed his lone run in the fifth, but he worked out of the jams with the help of quite a few empty swings. Interestingly enough, Ramirez threw just 6 changeups after never having thrown less than 19 during any of his previous starts. Instead, he brought out his slider and curveball with much success, forcing 6 whiffs on 10 curveballs (60%) and 5 whiffs on 13 sliders (38.5%). For some perspective, his career swing-and-miss rates on those pitches are 10.91% and 13.54% respectively. Those offerings will be worth monitoring moving forward.

Roenis Elias had a better game than Ramirez on the whole, tossing 8 innings, but he allowed 2 runs while Ramirez and the Rays bullpen allowed only 1. Xavier Cedeno allowed a double while recording 1 out before Brandon Gomes, Jake McGee, and Kevin Jepsen were much stingier. Gomes allowed just a hit while striking out 1 in 1.1 innings, Jake McGee worked around a hit with a strikeout in the eighth, and Kevin Jepsen filled in for Brad Boxberger at closer by tossing a hitless ninth, striking out 2 while walking 1.

The Rays scored both of their runs in the fourth. Joey Butler singled before Logan Forsythe was hit by a pitch two batters later, and then the duo pulled off a double steal. That brought Steven Souza Jr. to the plate, and on a 2-2 changeup that he may have taken for called strike three at another time, he put the ball in play and grounded a single up the middle for an RBI. Souza then took out Robinson Cano at second base on Jake Elmore‘s groundball to help Elmore beat out the back end of a potential double play. That scored Forsythe to give the Rays a 2-0 lead at the time.

Butler and Souza give the Rays two outfielders who look to be breaking out. Butler hasn’t shown much plate discipline, but he continues to use the whole field and even stole two bases in this game. Souza, meanwhile, has the power and now is trying to become more well-rounded as a hitter. Of course, he struck out twice in the game, but we see the flashes of him becoming a player who gives himself a chance even when the ball isn’t flying out of the yard. Hopefully those will only become more prevalent.

The win takes the Tampa Bay Rays to 29-26 on the season and within half a game of the New York Yankees in the AL East. Jake Odorizzi will take on J.A. Happ in the Rays-Mariners game tomorrow night at 10:10 EST.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Did the Team Win Its Offseason Trades?