The Mariners send out Erasmo Ramirez in Game 2 of their three-game set with the Houston Astros, Tuesday. Ramirez will need to “attack the zone like he did in spring training” according to Mariners’ manager Lloyd McClendon. With Hisashi Iwakuma throwing a 60-pitch simulated game this afternoon at Safeco Field (more info below), it’s probably safe to assume that IF Ramirez doesn’t show any signs of improvement, his days in the rotation could be numbered.
The Mariners offense will hope to get going and snap a seven-game losing skid against RHP Collin McHugh making his major league debut Tuesday night.
1. Abraham Almonte cf
2. Dustin Ackley lf
3. Robinson Cano 2b
4. Corey Hart dh
5. Kyle Seager 3b
6. Justin Smoak 1b
7. Michael Saunders rf
8. Mike Zunino c
9. Brad Miller ss
1. Jose Altuve 2b
2. Dexter Fowler cf
3. Jason Castro c
4. George Springer rf
5. Marc Krauss 1b
6. Alex Presley lf
7. Chris Carter dh
8. Matt Dominguez 3b
9. Jonathan Villar ss
As mentioned above, Iwakuma pitched a simulated game at Safeco Field rather than the rehab start he was scheduled to make down in Tacoma today. With the weather forecast for tonight in Tacoma, the Mariners’ management thought it was better to have him pitch in front of the staff in a controlled environment. Iwakuma threw 60 pitches over four innings to catch John Buck. Amongst the hitters he faced were Willie Bloomquist and Nick Franklin.
“We just didn’t want to take any chances with the weather down in Tacoma,” McClendon said. “It was good. Today I thought he had better finish to the split, more bite to the breaking ball and the fastball had good finish at the end, a little oomph at the end. So I was really pleased with what I saw today.”
Pitching coach Rick Waits was impressed with Iwakuma’s curveball especially and said he liked the game intensity that Iwakuma showed throughout the outing.
“The main thing is he is getting better each time,” Waits said. “I think the thing that I was probably the most impressed with was that in his last inning, the fourth inning, he still had great arm strength and that’s what I was looking for.
“He probably needs to work a little bit with his full wind up, getting his timing. I think he would admit that,” Waits added. “All four pitches were working. As a matter of fact, his curveball was very good today.”
The next step for Iwakuma will be a 75-pitch outing for the Rainiers in Las Vegas on Sunday. Any talk of him returning to the rotation will have to be tabled until that start is completed and the Mariners review it.
Bottom line, he is getting close and that is good news for a Mariners team that sorely needs some at this juncture.