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<  Shannon Drayer

Changes coming after the Mariners' 8th straight loss?

By Shannon Drayer

After the Mariners' eighth straight loss Tuesday night, manager Lloyd McClendon was clearly not thrilled by the performance of Erasmo Ramirez. Although Ramirez retired 14 of the last 17 batters he faced, McClendon was worried about what he saw early.

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The three earned runs allowed by Erasmo Ramirez Tuesday came via a pair of home runs he served up on 0-2 counts. (AP)
"Ramirez did not make quality strikes when he needed to, particularly ahead in the count, and it cost him tonight," McClendon said. "For me, I think he's got to pitch better than what he pitched."

Three earned runs in six innings is not terrible, but from the sounds of things this looked like what McClendon saw in spring training, which led to one of his more animated media sessions in Peoria, Ariz.

"They're horse---- pitches," he exclaimed after a four-hit, no-run performance by Ramirez. "Everybody was all excited about his start, 'Oh, he did such a great job,' but he made a lot of horse---- pitches on 0-2.

"Hanging sliders in the strike zone on 0-2 isn't good. You don't get those back. If you can't execute the pitch then we have to find someone that can. Once that light goes on you don't get those pitches back. You have to make that pitch."

Especially when your team is in the midst of an eight-game slide. McClendon seems to believe Ramirez is capable of better. When asked about options, he said they'd be discussed.

"That's something that (general manager Jack Zduriencik) and I will sit down and talk about," he said. "The fact is the club is struggling you need to go out and throw strikes, put up zeros and we didn't do that early."

So what are the options, who else is there with three starters from the 40-man roster on the disabled list? More than you might think.

With two off days coming up they could decide to go with four starters for the next 10 days. Ramirez's next pitch day actually falls on the off day, so it would not be a problem to skip him. His start after that would come May 3 in Houston and with Hisashi Iwakuma scheduled to throw 70 pitches in a rehab start for the Rainiers this Sunday. That's a start he could could make with one extra day of rest.

If Ramirez or any other starter is sent down, a position player or reliever would be called up. That player would not have to be on the 40-man roster since there is a spot open with Ji-Man Choi on the restricted list. Perhaps someone is brought up to spell Abraham Almonte, who is striking out at an alarming rate and possesses an even more alarming .267 on-base percentage.

Zduriencik was in McClendon's office after the game. We shall see what's next.

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