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September 25, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Big test for Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez tonight against desperate Angels team

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Justin Smoak put some suspense back in this thing with a two-run homer in the seventh off Scott Downs to make it 5-4, the Angels still ahead. Smoak becomes the fourth player in franchise history to go deep from both sides of the plate.
Dustin Ackley and Franklin Gutierrez opened the inning with doubles off Downs, who had reeled off 10 scoreless outings in a row coming in. That RBI double by Gutierrez snapped an 0-for-18 mark with RISP for the Mariners dating back to the start of Saturday’s game.
Ackley also whiffed for the fourth time tonight in the eighth inning with Miguel Olivo on second base. That makes it 18 strikeouts for the Mariners tonight, two shy of the club record of 20 set in the Roger Clemens game in 1986.
The Mariners have struck out at least 18 times on six occasions in their history, including extra-inning games. They’ve done it twice in the last week.
9:16 p.m.: The Angels just took some of the suspense out of this one with a two-run homer by Torii Hunter in the fifth and then a solo shot in the sixth by Erick Aybar to make it a 5-1 game. Garrett Richards replaced Zack Greinke to start the sixth and struck out the side, making it 16 whiffs for the Mariners tonight.
That’s their most in a regulation game this season. They did strike out 18 times last week in the 18-inning game — but that’s a different story altogether.
The 13 strikeouts by Greinke in five innings was the most by any pitcher over that span since Randy Johnson in 2001.
8:52 p.m.: Zack Greinke just struck out Eric Thames with the bases loaded in the fifth to keep it a 2-1 game, the Angels still ahead. Thames was the 13th strikeout victim of the night for Greinke — a season high — but the M’s may have won the overall battle of attrition since the Angels pitcher is at 111 pitches already.
The Angels have steadfastly kept Greinke around 115 pitches to preserve his arm — hoping to re-sign him for next year and beyond. So, he’s likely done for the night, with Garret Richards warming up.
Justin Smoak cut the lead in half with a solo homer off Greinke in the fourth. The M’s are out-hitting the Angels 7-4, but the errors and a lack of timely hits have hurt.
Oakland just beat the Rangers on a 10th inning homer by George Kottaras (also known as a Mariners killer lately). In other words, if the Angels blow this game, their playoff hopes just might be done. At three back with a week to go, it would not look good.


7:41 p.m.: Erasmo Ramirez already trails 2-0 after an inning of play, as his defense let him down big-time. First, Kye Seager flubbed a routine grounder by Mike Trout, likely trying to make the play too quickly because of Trout’s speed.
Then, a base-hit to right dropped in front of Eric Thames, who slowed up as he neared the ball. I’m thinking Michael Saunders makes the catch on that.
A real base hit followed and scored a run while leaving runners at the corners and no out. Ramirez did a good job getting Kendrys Morales to pop out and then popped up Alberto Callaspo as well.
Thames made the catch in shallow right, but made a poor throw home that hit the pitcher’s mound as Torii Hunter tagged up and scored.
Both runs were unearned.
The Mariners made Zack Grienke throw 27 pitches in the first inning, notching two hits. But they didn’t score and struck out three times.
7:05 p.m.: This is it for the Angels with just eight days of season left and a two-game gap between them and the Oakland Athletics. That means, no more room for playing around. The Angels have given some games to the Mariners these past two months — including a pair of Jered Weaver starts — and those are looming rather large at the moment.
So, no more time for playing around. And that means it’s a desperate lineup Erasmo Ramirez will face tonight, trying to build off his strong outing last week against Baltimore. The Orioles were also in a bit of a must-win situation back then, though with more schedule remaining.
Ramirez gave up just two hits over eight scoreless innings in that one, then two more hits and two runs in the ninth en route to a no-decision in that eventual 18-inning marathon the M’s lost 4-2. The fact Ramirez is starting again is a good sign for him. The Mariners had only planned to give him two starts this month, but this will be No. 3. He’s clearly shown them something.

Comments | Topics: Dustin Ackley

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