Ramirez optioned to Tacoma after stellar outing; Start a showcase for Walker?

Erasmo Ramirez deserved a better fate.

Sure he suffered the loss when the Mariners fell 3-1 to the Mets, despite allowing two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out 10 to match a career high. The loss dropped Ramirez to 1-5, yet it was the subsequent demotion to Triple-A minutes after the game ended that seemed unwarranted.

Ramirez’s outing was arguably his best of the season. Other than a 2-hit shutout over six innings against the Padres in June, the command of the strike zone with all four pitches was as good as he’s had since his rookie season.

Instead of building on that success in a major-league rotation, Ramirez will make the 30-mile drive south to Tacoma hoping to force the M’s hand again. That has to be the mindset right?

“Show them what you can do and don’t be afraid,” Ramirez said. “Always just be the same person whether you’re here or (in the minors) . . . Just go and continue working.”

Ramirez said it was important to get the opportunity not only to show that he’s made progress, but that he’s there. He’s willing to take a spot start. Willing to help out in a pinch. Now, after striking out 10 Mets and commanding the strike zone with all four of his pitches, Ramirez knows he’s on the right track.

“It helped a lot, because in the minors I’ve been working a little bit and everything was working good and now was the time to show different (with the Mariners), say, ‘Hey, I can pitch good here,'” said Ramirez.

“It was a good day for me and I’m happy about what happened.”

Showcase Start for Walker?

Mariners’ rookie right-hander Taijuan Walker is excited about the chance to start every fifth day in the M’s rotation from July 23 to the end of September.

Unfortunately for him, it sure seems like the team doesn’t want to give him that chance.

After he languished through four innings against the White Sox on July 7, it has been a long, strange trip for Walker back to the Seattle rotation.

First, his manager Lloyd McClendon decided to move Felix Hernandez back a day in order to have him face the division-leading Athletics, thereby allowing Hisashi Iwakuma to come back and start Saturday in Walker’s place. This allowed McClendon the convenience to option Walker to Triple-A to “stay busy” during a period of 10 days over the All-Star break in which the fifth spot in the M’s rotation would not come up again until July 22.

So Walker did. He made two starts in Tacoma, only his second start came on Friday, rather than Thursday (which was scheduled earlier in the week) which took him out of line to slide into the No. 5 spot on July 22. Instead, Ramirez moved into the Thursday start, eventually landed the No. 5 spot and the team decided Monday (or perhaps on the flight home from Anaheim Sunday) to open a spot for Walker Wednesday by sliding the rotation back once again.

Still with me? It certainly is a bit curious. If McClendon wanted Walker to start to begin with, why move his second scheduled Tacoma start from Thursday to Friday? Was it really just to give Iwakuma another day of rest as he claims? Doubtful considering this little nugget McClendon announced Wednesday morning in his media session: the Mariners will skip the fifth spot in the rotation over the next turn thanks to an off day Monday.

All signs seem to point to this being a showcase start for Walker. He’s been the focal point in trade discussions on at least one front (with Tampa Bay) and you can bet any suitor wants to see just how major-league ready he is.



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