SEATTLE – 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.
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 5 1/2 games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
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.
The only ball hit really 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 Mariners were flummoxed by Rogers through three innings, managing 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 baserunning blunder trying to stretch it into a double and was easily thrown out. 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 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.