Ramirez's bullpen struggles continue vs. O's

Ramirez's bullpen struggles continue vs. O's

BALTIMORE -- Erasmo Ramirez could do no wrong at the beginning of the season. When the right-hander took the mound, he was money.

Now the feeling of seeing Ramirez entering the game evokes many images, though none of them are of a lockdown reliever.

On Saturday night, Ramirez took the loss when he could not hold a one-run lead in the Rays' 8-6 defeat in Game 2 of a day-night doubleheader, which Baltimore swept.

Ramirez was heralded as the team's Most Valuable Player when he posted a 1.13 ERA in his first 12 appearances of the season. Particularly endearing was the fact that he did not question the team's decision to move him to the bullpen after Spring Training. And his record sat at 5-1 on May 4.

Unfortunately for Ramirez and the Rays, the pendulum has since swung drastically in the other direction.

On Saturday night, Ramirez took over for Jake Odorizzi in the sixth inning. In the seventh, he allowed the Orioles to tie the game on Adam Jones' RBI single. When Manny Machado singled with one out to put runners on first and second, Xavier Cedeno entered the game to replace Ramirez. Chris Davis greeted the lefty with an RBI single that put the Orioles up 7-6.

Ramirez allowed four hits in 1 1/3 innings and was charged with two earned runs, along with the loss.

In Ramirez's past 19 appearances, he has a 6.15 ERA and a 2-5 record.

Ramirez had not pitched since Monday, because the Rays wanted to give him a "get fresh couple of days" according to Rays manager Kevin Cash, who thought the time off actually helped Ramirez.

"I thought he was more crisp than what we've seen," Cash said. "I know the results aren't what we were looking for or maybe what he was looking for, but I thought the ball was coming out of his hand a little better."

Ramirez said he was able to better focus on hitting his spots Saturday.

"That made me feel better, knowing that command is coming better now," Ramirez said. "And I just have to throw some breaking balls with that. ... It was just one of those days."

Ramirez managed a smile when asked about the up-and-down nature of his season.

"That's baseball," Ramirez said. "Because they can kill you with ground balls. Right now the ground balls are not going the right place. Like what happened in Kansas City to us. A lot of weak contact, bloopers, so you can do nothing. Just continue to pound the strike zone. Hopefully the rest of the season just becomes better."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.