Ramirez's masterful work key to victory

Ramirez's masterful work key to victory

BOSTON -- The 11-2 final score did not tell the tale of how close Sunday's game truly was.

In the bottom of the sixth inning with the Rays clinging to a 3-2 lead, starter Matt Andriese was forced to give way to the bullpen after the first two batters reached base on a throwing error and a walk.

With men on first and second and no outs, on came Erasmo Ramirez, who was masterful in eliminating the threat to help lead the Rays to the victory over the Red Sox.

"Erasmo came in, and really quieted things down," manager Kevin Cash said. "Erasmo was outstanding."

Ramirez said: "You know the situation is kind of tough, first and second, we're winning just by one, and you don't want to mess it up. You don't want to be the bad guy in the game. If you got the pitches and you can control them in that moment, then everything is just about picking that right one."

Christian Vazquez, the first batter Ramirez faced, hit a fly ball to center field, which allowed Hanley Ramirez to tag up to third.

With the tying run just 90 feet away, the Rays reliever locked in and struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. and Deven Marrero to end the inning and maintain the one-run advantage.

"That was huge. Two runners on in the [sixth] with Erasmo coming in. Those strikeouts were huge," Andriese said. "I think that was the tale of the game right there, him shutting down that inning. That was huge by Erasmo."

Ramirez added: "I followed [catcher Jesus] Sucre. I followed whatever he called. Execute, that was the most important thing. We got the right pitches at the right moment, and we got out of the trouble. … He called the pitches, I executed, and we got the pop fly and two strikeouts."

For good measure Ramirez pitched a flawless seventh against the top of the Red Sox lineup, striking out Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, and getting Xander Bogaerts to ground out.  

Before the game, Cash spotlighted Ramirez as the prime candidate to fill the rotation slot opened by the optioning of Blake Snell to Triple-A on Saturday.

Following Ramirez's performance, the Rays manager confirmed Ramirez would still be a top choice for the role after being able to get him some much needed work.

"At some point, we needed to find a way to get him built up a little bit," Cash said. "He had thrown 17 or 18 pitches two nights ago. Two innings of work, that should put him on a pretty good course if we decide to go that route."

Ramirez's one-run outing

Given a confidence boost with his two innings of work Sunday, Ramirez, who made a spot start when Jake Odorizzi went on the disabled list in April, said he will be ready to slot in if that's the direction the club chooses.

"I kind of heard that yesterday, just comments, everybody talking about that," Ramirez said. "I'm just waiting for the day. Waiting for that day to come and just be ready, continue working the way I've been doing."

Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston and covered the Rays on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.