1. Rays

Erasmo Ramirez, Rays routed by Blue Jays (with video)

Erasmo Ramirez walks off the mound at the end of the second inning.
Erasmo Ramirez walks off the mound at the end of the second inning.
Published Apr. 16, 2015

TORONTO — The primary reason the Rays are above .500 has been the tremendous work of their injury-depleted pitching staff.

Now if they could just erase Erasmo.

The Rays knew it was a gamble starting erratic Erasmo Ramirez on Wednesday, and it failed miserably in a 12-7 loss to the Blue Jays that snapped their four-game win streak.

Ramirez was really no better than in his first outing for the Rays on Friday, allowing nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits and three walks over 31/3 innings, though his ERA actually went down, from 31.50 to a not-quite-tidy 23.63.

Measuring his ineffectiveness another way, of the 37 batters Ramirez has faced wearing a Rays uniform, 20 have reached base and 16 have scored.

"With Erasmo, it was kind of similar to the last outing, just falling behind," manager Kevin Cash said. "And if you fall behind to a lineup like this, it's going to hurt."

The Rays acquired Ramirez in a March 31 trade for lefty Mike Montgomery with the idea that he at least could help them get through the first month when they would be without injured/ill starters Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Alex Colome and potential fill-in Enny Romero, plus top reliever Jake McGee.

Now it seems a fair question if Ramirez will pitch again for them.

Assuming Matt Andriese is going to take the No. 4 slot for a couple of turns, the Rays, because they are off Monday, don't need a fifth starter again until April 25.

Though that might be a bit too soon for any of the injured to return, they still might be better served dumping Ramirez, who is out of options, and using the 40-man roster spot to promote reliever Brandon Gomes.

Cash said he expected Ramirez to "get his work in" and make some adjustments but also said it was too early to say if he gets another start.

Ramirez doesn't seem sure what's wrong. He said his problem was due to bad location that stemmed from having an unusually excessive amount of movement on his fastball, which he thought may be the result of a flaw in his mechanics. Also, it looks like he is pitching to avoid contact when he isn't, and it is taking him too long to correct what's wrong.

"Right now," he said, "I don't know."

Though the loss knocked the Rays down a peg, at 5-4, from what had been a franchise-best-matching start, there were some highlights as they all wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.

One was another loud blast by Steven Souza Jr., this one an estimated 413 feet into the second deck in leftfield, though shy of his Tuesday 463-foot shot to center that ranks as the season's longest.

The other was a well-struck homer to center by rookie outfielder Mikie Mahtook for his first big-league hit, the sixth Rays player to do so, joining Brandon Guyer, Elijah Dukes, Delmon Young, Brent Abernathy and Esteban Yan.

With his teammates giving him the silent treatment when he got to the dugout, Mahtook did some "air high-fives" until they relented and congratulated him. "It was a fun experience," he said.

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That was about it. The Rays lost another replay challenge (now 0-for-4), Tim Beckham was robbed of a homer by a spectacular leaping catch by leftfielder Kevin Pillar and lefty reliever Jeff Beliveau (13.50 ERA) had another rough night.

"It didn't maybe play out the way we wanted," Cash said.


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