The Rainiers won another tight game last night, with closer Nick Ramirez nailing down the save in a 4-1 victory over Round Rock. Ramirez’s 15th save of the season came with a bit of flourish: he struck out the side to end the game, fanning Andy Ibanez, Davis Wendzel, and Sandro Fabian in order to finish them off.
Ramirez currently leads the Pacific Coast League in saves, and with five games remaining it looks like he’ll claim that honor when the season ends on Wednesday in Reno. His 15 saves are the most by a Tacoma reliever since 2018, when Shawn Armstrong (currently with the Tampa Bay Rays) also recorded 15 saves.
It’s been a minute since Tacoma had the PCL saves leader.
In 2008 Rainiers closer Jared Wells led the league with 20 saves, but that one comes with an asterisk. He started the season with Portland, saved nine games for them, then was traded to the Mariners organization and had 11 saves for Tacoma.
To find a reliever who led the league in saves while notching all of them as a member of the Rainiers, we have to go back to the year 2000. That’s when Todd Williams set the franchise record with his 32 save season, easily leading the league. No one has challenged his team record since then.
As for Ramirez, he really didn’t become the closer until July. He didn’t get his first save until May 12, had one more that month, and just one in June as the team a) was using a closer-by-committee approach and b) wasn’t winning many games anyway.
Ramirez had a 1.67 ERA when manager Tim Federowicz went to him to close out the July 3rd game against Salt Lake, and then Fed started going to him to protect leads with more frequency. By the end of July the team was playing better baseball and there were more leads to protect, and Ramirez became the Rainiers go-to-guy to finish games. Eleven of his 15 saves have come after the all-star break.
For the season Ramirez is 15-for-18 in saves opportunities. He has a 2.98 ERA in 52 games, with a 51-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 54.1 innings pitched.
One of the reasons he is an effective closer is his outstanding change-up. That pitch is a weapon for Ramirez when facing right-handed batters, who often swing over the top of the diving pitch. That’s what happened last night when he whiffed three straight righties to end the game.
Last night’s win pulled the Rainiers record within three games of .500, at 71-74. Tacoma has not been this close to .500 since April 14, when the team was 3-6. Finishing the season at .500 is still a possibility – a 4-1 finish will get it done.
The Rainiers have won three straight games, five of the last six, and 13 of the last 19. The squad is 33-23 since the all-star break. It’s been a fun second half.
YESTERDAY: In his final start of the season, Tacoma’s Roenis Elias pitched six shutout innings of two-hit ball as the Rainiers beat Round Rock on Friday night, 4-1. Elias retired the first ten batters he faced, he did not walk anyone, and he struck out seven. Cade Marlowe‘s two-run homer in the third gave the Rainiers the lead, and Drew Ellis added a solo blast in the sixth. Tacoma has won three straight games.
TODAY: Round Rock Express (76-69) at Tacoma Rainiers (71-74), 5:05.
OPPONENT AFFILIATION: Texas Rangers.
OPPOSING MANAGER: Matt Hagen
SEASON SERIES: Tacoma leads, 5-2.
PITCHERS: RHP Tyson Miller (4-7, 4.52) at LHP Austin Warner (5-2, 4.93)
ROSTER MOVES: Yesterday the Mariners recalled outfielder Taylor Trammell.
HOT HITTERS: Mason McCoy has a six-game hitting streak, and he has reached base safely in 26 of his last 27 games… Jonathan Villar homered five times and drove in 13 runs during a 12-game hitting streak that ended last night… Marcus Wilson has hit safely in five straight… Drew Ellis has a seven-game hitting streak… Cade Marlowe has homered in three straight games.
OPPONENT NEWS: Round Rock has faded down the stretch, losing nine of the last 11 games… former Rainiers and Mariners outfielder James Jones is now a relief pitcher with Round Rock… Seattle native Josh Sale (Bishop Blanchet High School) and Federal Way’s Nick Tanielu (Federal Way High School, Washington State University) are with the Express… infielder Ezequiel Duran and starting pitcher Cole Winn are the most decorated prospects on the Round Rock roster… Elier Hernandez had his eight-game hitting streak end last night.
BROADCAST: All games will be broadcast free on a live audio stream which is available right here.
Unfortunately, there is no traditional terrestrial radio station carrying the games at this time.
PCL SCOREBOARD: Follow all league games in real-time with links to broadcasts and Gameday screens right here.
- The Mariners lost in Kansas City last night, and Baltimore picked up a game in the wild card race. The M’s have a three-game lead with 12 to go.
- Julio Rodriguez landed on the 10-day injured list, which is… a problem.
- Speaking of Julio, Greg Bishop has a big feature on him for Sports Illustrated.
- Congratulations to Albert Pujols on becoming the fourth member of the 700 home run club. Unbelievable.