Well, a whole lot just happened here in a couple of innings and the Mariners trail 6-4 in the eighth. More importantly, Jon Garland got through six innings of two-run ball and might have been able to go a seventh had Dustin Ackley not prolonged the sixth with an error on a ground ball. As is, Garland needed only 70 pitches over six frames and had been slotted for 80.
So, yeah, I’d say he impressed the Mariners tonight overall. And yes, Garland expects an answer by tomorrow on whether he’ll make the rotation. That’s when he’s eligible to trigger his “out” clause and leave so the M’s have a decision to make.
“I think I’ve shown them everything I can,” he said. “Now, the decision’s on the,. There are a lot of young arms here who have proven themselves more than worthy.”
One of the young arms who had done just that didn’t fare so well tonight. Erasmo Ramirez got rocked for four runs while working the seventh and eighth innings, giving up a two-run homer to Brad Nelson in the eighth that put Chicago ahead. Ramirez entered with a 4-2 lead in the seventh and yielded four straight hits before finally recording an out on a sacrifice bunt.
Now, one bad outing does not ruin a spring. But you’ll remember last weekend, when Ramirez gave up two runs over six innings, he allowed five doubles and four of them were absolutely smoked to right-center by hitters who aren’t exactly Murderer’s Row in the big leagues. Ramirez himself felt he was lucky those balls didn’t leave the park and had they done so, we’d be sitting here talking about how he got rocked in consecutive outings.
Worth considering, since the Mariners now face some tough calls. On Garland, it shouldn’t be that tough. He should only improve from here as he gets used to pitching again and tonight, he looked pretty close to his old self.
9:18 p.m.: Jon Garland is through two more innings and still has a 3-2 lead after five, though he elevated some of his pitches the past two frames and paid for it with another long ball in the fourth by Alfonso Soriano. With the count 2-2, Garland threw Soriano a second straight curveball — his strikeout-pitch tonight — and the Cubs veteran didn’t miss it when it stayed a bit up in the zone.
Garland gave up his first walk of the night in the fifth to Alberto Gonzalez, then saw David DeJesus line a first-pitch curve to right field, but right at Michael Saunders for the final out.
When Garland keeps the ball down, he’s been lights-out tonight. Where he’s had trouble is when his pitches start to elevate and center a bit too much.
So far, he’s kept his team ahead. I’m sure he’d like to finish strong in the sixth. He’s facing a decent lineup tonight and a stats line of six innings and two runs given up would not be too shabby.
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