SEATTLE--Erasmo Ramirez did his part. That was the underlying concern entering Wednesday's game against the New York Mets, and rightfully so.
Would Ramirez give the Seattle Mariners enough? Would he at least keep them in the game?
But Ramirez wasn't the problem. Not after matching a career high with 10 strikeouts while giving up a manageable two runs in seven innings. No, the problem stood where it has been all season--with the Mariners' offense, which didn't show up in a 3-1 loss to the Mets in front of 18,681 at Safeco Field.
The Mariners hardly strung together any meaningful scoring chances, and they squandered the few opportunities they did have.
The shame of it is that it erased one of Ramirez's best starts this season, if not his best start.
The skepticism surrounding Ramirez was fairly earned. Ramirez had struggled with control in his previous starts for the Mariners, and volumes of base runners marred even his outings that produced good results.
But Ramirez limited his mistakes against the Mets, and therefore his damage. He consistently worked in the strike zone, which manager Lloyd McClendon has called Ramirez's biggest key to success. He struck out the side in the fourth inning. He came back out for the seventh inning despite being over 100 pitches, then promptly struck out two more batters.
It was the most strikeouts he's recorded in a game since his rookie season, in 2012. It was also his longest outing since his first start of the season on April 1.
Ramirez's only real problem came in the second inning, and he had help in creating the mess.
After Bobby Abreu led off the second inning with a single, Travis d'Arnaud followed with a line drive to center field. Outfielder James Jones rushed in and tried to make a sliding catch to the side of his body, but he missed and the ball rolled to the warning track.
That drove in Abreu, who then scored after Ramirez walked a batter and gave up a single.
Ramirez also wobbled in the sixth inning but settled down to right himself. He yanked a wild pitch wide and in the dirt, then hit a batter on his very next pitch. That put two runners on with one out, and it prompted a visit from pitching coach Rick Waits.
But Ramirez struck out the next two batters he faced and walked off the mound pumping his fist.
The Mariners' offense just didn't do much to support him.
Willie Bloomquist, who started for the second straight game because he had three hits in Monday's game and sparked the offense, did so once again with a leadoff single. Dustin Ackley drove Bloomquist in with a double to the gap; he ended up on third because of a throwing error.
The Mariners couldn't capitalize anymore than that. Mike Zunino popped out to shallow left field with one out after getting ahead in the count 3-0, and Endy Chavez grounded out to second.
Tom Wilhelmsen dug the hole a little deeper when he gave up a solo home run to Lucas Duda in the eighth inning that gave the Mets a 3-1 lead.
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