Fifth-starter candidate Pomeranz delivers strong start

A's lefty whiffs five, allows one run over four innings in loss to Mariners

Fifth-starter candidate Pomeranz delivers strong start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With a little more than two weeks to go in Spring Training, the story line from Wednesday's Cactus League tilt between the A's and the Mariners was the battle for rotation spots by both the starting pitchers.

Seattle right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and Oakland lefty Drew Pomeranz acquitted themselves quite well in a game the Mariners won, 4-0, at Peoria Stadium.

Both pitched the first four innings. Ramirez didn't allow a run and was touched for a hit -- Craig Gentry's game-opening double. He walked one and struck out two to earn his first victory.

"I'm happy, I feel good because the command was there," said Ramirez, who survived the first inning unscathed because pulled-in shortstop Brad Miller snared Marcus Semien's liner and forced Gentry at third base for a double play. "I just made one bad pitch to Gentry, right down the middle. But the whole deal is just to execute. If you miss one just come back with the next pitch."

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Pomeranz allowed four hits and a run on Kyle Seager's double followed by Justin Ruggiano's RBI single with two out in the fourth. He walked one and whiffed five Mariners and was tagged with his second loss.

The A's rotation is still wide open behind Opening Day starter Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir. Pomeranz is one of the top candidates to fill one of those spots.

"Obviously I want to be a starter," said Pomeranz, who has allowed three runs (two earned) on nine hits with three walks and 14 whiffs in nine spring innings. "I've been a starter my whole career except for last year. But I just try to keep it simple. I'm trying to fill up the zone. I'm trying to throw strikes, trying to get deep in the game and get guys out."

Seattle's rotation is pretty much set from Nos. 1 to 4 and Ramirez is battling Taijuan Walker, among others, for the fifth slot. Ramirez has allowed just three runs (two earned) on eight hits with five strikeouts and a walk in 11 innings over his four starts. He issued his first walk of the spring to Mark Canha, opening the third. The A's only had two baserunners against him.

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Ramirez said he's anxiously awaiting news on his fate. "Just like you, just like everyone else."

Asked how hard it is to wait, he added: "It's hard. We've got a lot of good, young arms. They're good throwers. They throw strikes. They're smart. It's a good competition. You just have to wait, but it is hard."

Up next: After an off-day Thursday, the A's resume play Friday with a pair of split-squad games. In Mesa, Ariz., Opening Day starter Sonny Gray will get the ball at home against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at 1:05 p.m. PT, while Jesse Chavez takes the mound in a matchup with the Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick at 1:10 p.m. PT. Both contests will be broadcast live on MLB.TV. The game against the Dodgers will also be available as an exclusive free webcast on

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.