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Tampa Bay Rays Game 89: How About Erasmo Ramirez?

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The Tampa Bay Rays’ last two wins have come with Erasmo Ramirez on the mound. That is terrible–that means that they have won two of their last six games, and we know that they’ve actually won just 4 of their last 19. However, it isn’t some laughable baseball oddity that Ramirez is the guy leading the Rays to victory. He has turned into an excellent pitcher this season, and even as Mike Montgomery pitches well in Seattle, the Rays have no regrets about bringing Ramirez into the fold for this year and potentially the next several as well.

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In this game, Ramirez tossed 6 innings allowing a lone run on 4 hits in 6 innings of work, striking out 5 while walking none. Colby Rasmus, a rumored Rays target this offseason, got him for a solo homer in the second inning, but that was all. The Rays did take him out after 77 pitches–they still don’t like Ramirez seeing hitters more than three times–but we can hardly argue with the way they have been using him this season. After all, he has a 2.07 ERA in 74 innings since allowing 16 runs in his first two Rays appearances and has allowed 1 run or less in 7 of his last 8 starts, giving up 2 runs in the lone outlier. He has only surpassed 6 innings once this year, but while he has been out there, he has been brilliant.

Luckily the Rays had a little bit more than good starting pitching in this game. They took the lead in the sixth inning after receiving a Rene Rivera single and a John Jaso double to give them runners on second and third. Neither of the next two batters, David DeJesus and Evan Longoria, looked comfortable against Collin McHugh, but they did a great job making contact and hitting groundballs to get both runners home. Then Brandon Guyer added an insurance run in more resounding fashion, drilling a solo homer in the seventh inning.

The Rays were held to 4 hits and 2 walks in this game–they literally had two threats of any kind the entire game. The other came in the first inning, when they received a Longoria walk and a James Loney single with two outs, but in vintage fashion, they didn’t seize it. Luckily they didn’t let their second opportunity go to waste. The Rays finished 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position, but it’s hard to argue when two of those outs brought runs home. The better statistic is that the Rays scored three times while leaving just two men on base.

Then there was the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen, which luckily looked like it did pre-slump. The Rays took the training wheels off Jake McGee a little bit, letting him toss 1.1 innings and throw 19 pitches, and after he allowed a leadoff double, he retired the next four hitters he saw. Kevin Jepsen (0.2 IP) and Brad Boxberger made it nine in a row to end the game, with Boxberger striking out 2 in a perfect ninth. We heard a few days ago that he was tipping pitches, but hopefully that realization will be enough to get him back on track.

The win takes the Rays to 44-45, a step in the right direction although obviously they have much more work to do. Two in a row would be a great way to spark their resurgence as Jake Odorizzi comes off the DL to take on Dallas Keuchel beginning at 4:10 PM EST.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: A Historical Perspective on Recent Collapse

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