SEATTLE – The funny thing is, Erasmo Ramirez picked up his first loss of the season when he pitched one of his best games.
As fortunate as Ramirez was to be 4-0 despite a 5.94 earned-run average, he was just as unfortunate in getting saddled with the loss Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Ramirez allowed only two earned runs during his 6 2/3 innings, but Seattle’s offense once again provided little relief in the 5-1 loss before 24,477.
“There wasn’t much to talk about offensively,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We didn’t do much.”
Which left Ramirez holding the loss.
Ramirez was coming off his best start of the season. It was his longest start of the season (seven innings) and also the only time he’d given up less than three runs.
That had come after getting shelled in his first four starts after getting called up in July. But Ramirez held the Texas Rangers to just four hits in seven innings last Sunday and, while not quite as sharp this time around, maneuvered his way through the Angels’ lineup.
His hiccup came in the first inning.
With a runner on first and one out, Ramirez jumped ahead of Angels wunderkind Mike Trout 0-2. But Ramirez couldn’t finish the job, and Trout blasted a two-run homer.
“I had the count so I have to be sure and don’t make that mistake with a great hitter,” Ramirez said. “There’s no chance he’s going to miss it.”
Yet Ramirez settled down after that 26-pitch first inning and hit a groove. At one point he retired nine straight batters and even had three consecutive outs in which he struck out Trout, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo.
“He was stronger as the game wore on,” Wedge said.
Ramirez couldn’t escape his final jam in the seventh inning. He allowed runners on second and third with one out but got an out at home.
Trouble hit with the next batter: Trout. Ramirez got Trout to hit a fly ball to right-center field, but Endy Chavez dropped the ball, resulting in an error and a run scored. (Chavez did save a solo home run for Ramirez with a great catch in the second inning.)
“There’s no excuses,” Chavez said. “I got to the point, and I’m supposed to make the catch. I didn’t do it.”
The Mariners’ offense created chances against former M’s pitcher Jason Vargas, yet cashed in few of them. They had at least one base runner in every inning but the ninth, yet stranded nine of them. They carved out nine hits, yet only one went for extra bases.
Humberto Quintero and Dustin Ackley led off the seventh inning with back-to-back singles and advanced to second and third with no outs on a balk from Vargas.
Nick Franklin, who hadn’t played since getting five stitches after Tuesday’s game against Oakland, stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter. Franklin grounded out to third, but he scored Quintero. And then Brad Miller and Kendrys Morales struck out, and the threat dissolved.
Franklin’s run batted in snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak for the Mariners.
“I’ve only been back a couple days,” Wedge said, “but I haven’t been pleased with what I’ve seen with our approach up there. When we’re good, we’re hitting fastballs. We’re fouling some fastballs back. We’re swinging through some pitches. I thought we did a lot of chasing today at breaking balls out of the zone. That’s not a good combination.”