nNow that right-hander Yefry Ramírez has grasped the Orioles’ fifth spot in the starting rotation, he hopes to build on his last week’s promising outing when he starts the second game of Monday’s home doubleheader against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.
In his third major league start, Ramírez will have the opportunity to pitch against a Yankees organization he was a member of last season. The Orioles acquired Ramírez last year in exchange for international slot bonus money.
“It’s very important,” Ramírez said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón about pitching against the Yankees. “Obviously, I want to do well against my former team and show them what I can do over here. So obviously I’m looking forward to it.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he’s been impressed with Ramírez’s composure, saying he believes that’s a result of Ramírez opening his professional career as a position player. He was mainly a third baseman, but also played first base with Arizona’s Dominican Summer League team in his first year in the Diamondbacks organization in 2011.
“I’m sure there’s some thought to it,” Showalter said of Ramírez facing his former team. “Whatever there might be to it, it’ll go very quickly. … That’s one of the attractive things about him. He’s a very even-keel guy. You have to have a certain amount of emotion to pitch up here, but he seems to have it under control. He doesn’t let things get away from him. I think a lot of that has to do with his background as a player. He seems to understand game situations.
“I’m sure he knows who he’s pitching against tomorrow and who he used to be with. Of course he does. But I don’t see that affecting him. It might even play in his favor. Who knows? But there’s not some vengeance or something. He’s happy for the opportunity he got with them and the opportunity they gave him by sending him to us. That’s the way I would be. Or he could be over there with them.”
It will be interesting following Ramírez’s development of his secondary pitches, specifically his slider. Ramírez has mostly been known as a fastball-changeup pitcher, but he’s worked hard to hone his slider. Out of the 21 sliders he threw against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, six of them were swinging strikes.
“It’s definitely very important,” Ramírez said of his slider. “It allows you to stay longer in the game and to be able to compete. So I’ll try to execute and hopefully everything works out well.”
In Wednesday’s start against the Phillies, Ramírez allowed just two runs (one earned) on one hit over five innings. He faced the minimum number of batters through his first four innings before allowing two runs in the fifth.
“I think what I want to try to bring in is to continue to work on my slider, my breaking ball, and continue to use my changeup as well,” he said. “I think I was working really well and I was able to execute them in my last start, so I’ll try to execute them in my next start.”
Ramírez owns a 2.51 ERA in three outings spanning 14 1/3 innings with 13 strikeouts and four walks.
Yacabonis to start Game 1
Showalter said after Sunday’s 10-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins that right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis will start the opening game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Yankees.
Yacabonis will be making his second start — and fourth appearance — for the Orioles this season. Yacabonis pitched well in a spot-start against the Seattle Mariners on June 28, allowing just one hit over four scoreless innings with five strikeouts and a walk.
Because Yacabonis — who was converted to a starter earlier this season — hasn’t pitched more than five innings or 66 pitches, his outing could be abbreviated
Showalter was also considering relievers Miguel Castro and Mike Wright Jr. for Monday’s Game 1 start.
Right-hander Chris Tillman had a 45-pitch work day Sunday at Double-A Bowie leading up to his fifth minor league rehabilitation start Tuesday, which will come with High-A Frederick.
Tillman logged six innings in his last rehab start Thursday with Triple-A Norfolk, allowing four runs on 12 base runners, but Showalter said the outing was better than the pitching line might indicate.
Showalter said that he’d like to see Tillman continue to work deeper in games. This projects to be Tillman’s second-to-last start before his 30-day minor league rehab window ends.
“As far as the game will let him go,” Showalter said. “ I’d love to see him pitch eight or nine innings, but I doubt it. I’d like for him to pitch around six or seven, continue to get the pitch count up.”
Around the horn
The Orioles lost six of seven games against the Twins this year. … Sunday’s loss marked the 14th time the Orioles have been swept this season.