'Model of consistency' notches eighth straight start with two earned runs or fewer
By Troy Provost-Heron
ST. PETERSBURG -- Before the Rays' 3-1 victory over the Astros on Friday, Rays manager Kevin Cash called Erasmo Ramirez a "model of consistency," and the right-hander provided another piece of evidence in his 13th start of the season.
Ramirez tossed six innings, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out five en route to his eighth win of the season, extending a career-high.
"It's been the best season of my career so far," Ramirez said. "To get to this point, I feel like I don't have to stop. I just have to continue doing what I've been doing, no matter what happens."
After facing the minimum in the first, Ramirez looked to be cruising through the second, retiring the first two Astro batters he faced, but Colby Rasmus had other plans, depositing a 1-1 fastball into the right-field seats to put Houston on the board first.
"It was a mistake," Ramirez said. "We just want to go in, and he got a good swing and good contact and it was gone."
From there, Ramirez walked Chris Carter to prolong the inning and then served up a sharply hit single to Jason Castro that forced Ramirez to excel in something other than pitching.
Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier came up firing to third in an effort to throw out Carter, but the throw sailed over third baseman Evan Longoria, who wasn't expecting a throw and was way up the basepath. The overthrow may have cost the Rays a run, maybe two, but Ramirez was able to flag it down as he backed up third.
"When I saw the throw, Longoria was not even at the base, he was way in front," Ramirez said. "So I used instincts. Just go for the ball and control everything. … It was a good time to back up the bases."
The run-saving play proved pivotal as Ramirez struck out Jake Marisnick to escape the two-out jam. He then settled in and proceeded to retire the next 11 batters he faced before giving up a single to Tampa native Preston Tucker in the sixth.
Ramirez exited right after the Rays scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to put him in line for his eighth victory. In the nine starts that he has received two or more runs of support, he is 8-0 with a 1.49 ERA.
"When you give up some runs and show the team that you are going to keep fighting until the manager says stop, it's good to see when they answer back to you and say, 'We're with you, and we are going to score,'" Ramirez said. "They scored two runs, and that was my game."
The outing marked the eighth straight start that Ramirez has allowed two earned runs or fewer -- the third-longest streak in club history -- and the ninth time he has surrendered one run or fewer, which has been only done more by his teammate Chris Archer (10) and Seattle's Felix Hernandez (10).
"I didn't expect this," Ramirez said. "How everything is going, keep the ball down and stay aggressive, that's my game. … I don't think too much about the wins, I just go out there and do my part [to help us win]."
Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.