Here are two primary observations from Yefry Ramirez’s major league debut Wednesday in a 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
It’d be nice to see the kid get another shot to start at some point this season; he’s earned it, though the assumption is he’ll go back to Triple-A Norfolk now and wait for another opportunity.
The second part: Walks kill.
The most impressive thing about what the 24-year-old right-hander did against a tough and patient Red Sox lineup was throw strikes.
Ramirez attacked the strike zone early — primarily with a low-90s fastball and an 83-to-85-mph changeup that had Boston off balance for the better part of four innings.
“The plan was to go after the hitters, continue to attack the zone, regardless of name or batting order,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “Try to continue to do the same things I was able to do in Triple-A — stay ahead in the count, always open with the first pitch strike.”
He struck out six batters, getting a swing-and-miss, strike three five times, all on changeups.
And that changeup – it’s a legitimate big-league out-pitch.
“It gives me a lot of confidence. I’m obviously going to continue to work with it,” Ramirez said about his changeup. “I feel confident with it right now, but there’s always room for improvement, so continuing to locate it well and over the plate.”
He allowed only one costly hit – a solo homer to Mookie Betts in the third – but otherwise was superb through four.
And then the fifth happened. Ramirez entered with 80 pitches – at the top end of where the Orioles wanted his pitch count to be — so it would have been his final frame anyway. But a sudden lack of control hastened the exit.
Ramirez picked up his final strikeout of the outing to start the fifth inning before walking the next two batters on 11 total pitches and was pulled by manager Buck Showalter. You could tell he was getting tired, and he said he felt that fatigue factored into his performance in that inning. Showalter agreed.
“I just think he got to an area he hasn’t been this year but a couple times. I was really trying to keep him out of harm’s way. Obviously, we’re short in the bullpen today. You’re trying to get as much out of him as you can,” Showalter said. “Quite frankly, I would have taken 5 (innings) going into the game today knowing where we were going to have to stop him pitch-wise. As you could tell, he was starting to labor there.”
Ultimately, Ramirez was charged with three runs on four hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings after Mike Wright allowed both inherited runners to score.
So, Ramirez’s line wasn’t great. Nor were the overall pitches thrown – 97, and 57 strikes.
Overall, his manager was content with the performance.
“It was a tough situation. He flies in here last night and walks in the locker room, it’s a sticky day. He hadn’t thrown barely over 90 pitches this year and a hot, sticky day,” Showalter said. “I thought he held his own for the most part. He gave us a chance. I was proud of him.”
So were the Orioles fans, who gave Ramirez a nice ovation when he walked off the mound. He’s not a top prospect. He had a 4.33 ERA in 12 starts at Triple-A. He had to make a spot start against one of baseball’s best teams while opposing one of baseball’s best pitchers, Chris Sale.
And he did fine. You could tell how important the day was to him. And he said so post-game.
“I felt awesome, excited, happy to be here,” Ramirez said. “It’s been an opportunity that I’ve been waiting for 12 years. Now, it’s finally here.”
Bleier injures lat and likely will be out for a while
Just when the Orioles bullpen finally regained full strength with the return of Darren O’Day and Zach Britton from injury, another key piece looks to be lost for a while.
Left-hander Richard Bleier, who has become one of the club’s most reliable relievers, left Wednesday’s game after throwing one pitch in the eighth due to discomfort behind his left shoulder.
After he threw the sinker – which resulted in a groundout – Bleier dropped his glove and immediately grabbed under his arm in obvious pain. He was taken out of the game immediately. An X-Ray was taken Wednesday evening and an MRI is slated for Thursday.
Currently, there is no timetable for how long he’ll be out, but lat muscle strains for pitchers are often lengthy injuries. It’s something Bleier hasn’t had before.
“Any injury is not good and to the point where there was no question I couldn’t make another pitch, that’s obviously not good,” Bleier said.
Bleier leads the team in appearances with 31 and has compiled a 3-0 record and a 1.93 ERA this year. He also had graduated from a lefty specialist role to pitching against righties and lefties in just about any situation within a game.
His loss will be significant for a bullpen that’s finally whole.
“It’s just real unfortunate,” Showalter said. “Richard has been a good pitcher for us.”