ANAHEIM, Calif. — It would appear the decision on who gets dropped from the Rays rotation isn't going to be so tough after all.
With Alex Cobb on track for a return as soon as Thursday, manager Joe Maddon has been saying for days how difficult the choice would be.
But Cesar Ramos got off to a rough start Saturday for the second straight game, and Maddon's decision to pull him three batters into the second inning certainly seemed to reflect a lack of confidence that he would get better.
As it was, reliever Brandon Gomes only made it worse, as the Rays lost 6-0 to the Angels and dropped back to six games under .500 at 19-25 as they wrap up what has thus far been a 3-3 road trip this afternoon.
As bad as Ramos and Gomes — who may be pitching his way back to Durham as Cobb's return requires a 25-man roster move — were, the rest of the Rays didn't do much to help.
With a lineup that included rookies Brandon Guyer and lefty-swinging Kevin Kiermaier, plus .189-hitting Logan Forsythe and .128-hitting Jose Molina (as Ryan Hanigan is sidelined with a sore hamstring), the Rays managed only five hits against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson. (One, though, was the first of Kiermaier's career.)
Moving Ramos back to a long relief role seems like the easiest solution to the rotation dilemma anyway, allowing the Rays to ride veteran Erik Bedard as long as he keeps pitching well.
Ramos got off to a miserable start Monday in Seattle, allowing hits to the first four Mariners and three runs in the first, then, after making a costly throwing error, five more in the second.
Maddon raved for days about the tremendous job Ramos did in battling through to pitch into the seventh to save the bullpen, and Ramos talked about making a significant adjustment as he retired the last 12 batters.
But the reality was that he put the team in an early hole again, and Maddon was trying to keep it from getting worse.
Ramos was fortunate to allow only two in the messy first, as he started by allowing a single to Collin Cowgill and walking Mike Trout. After getting Albert Pujols to pop out, Ramos allowed an RBI single to Howie Kendrick and another to rookie C.J. Cron. It was clear by then that Maddon wasn't going to have much patience, as he had Gomes warming up.
Erick Aybar launched a drive to left that Guyer did a good job running down — and was fortunate that transfer rules were changed a few weeks ago as he dropped it — though another run scored as Trout tagged up.
Ramos struck out Grant Green then hit Luis Jimenez and allowed another single to Cowgill, and Maddon had seen enough.
The problem was that Gomes didn't do any better. He allowed a sac fly to Trout and an opposite-field double to Pujols that made it 4-0, then a two-out double to Chris Ianetta and a two-run homer to No. 8-hitting Green in the third to expand the deficit to 6-0.
Ramos, who was born, grew up and played collegiately in the Los Angeles area, was looking forward to the start, with more than 20 friends and relatives taking advantage of knowing he was pitching and coming to see him.