3/16/2013 7:48 P.M. ET
Ramirez sharp through six as Mariners top Rockies
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Switch-hitting Kendrys Morales hit his third home run of the spring -- his first from the right side -- to spearhead a three-run fifth inning, and pitcher Erasmo Ramirez gave up two runs in six frames as the Mariners beat the Rockies, 5-2, on Saturday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Morales, acquired from the Angels for pitcher Jason Vargas to help bolster Seattle's offense, went 2-for-3 to raise his Cactus League average to .371.
"He's been consistent all spring," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. "It's nice to see him get some at-bats from the right side today. I felt like that was important. When you take into consideration the professional at-bats he puts up, all you have to do is watch the guy take batting practice and you know every swing has a purpose."
The Mariners also benefited from Mike Jacobs' two-out, two-strike solo homer in the seventh off Rockies reliever Matt Belisle. The Mariners have hit 41 homers in Cactus League play.
Rockies lefty starter Drew Pomeranz, trying to lock up the fifth rotation spot, pitched smoothly until the fifth, giving up three runs on three hits, including Jesus Montero's double and Carlos Peguero's single, both of which drove in a run. The inning also included Pomeranz's only walk, to Michael Morse, who ended up scoring.
In all, Pomeranz allowed four runs on nine hits and struck out five. Pomeranz was especially impressive in the third. After surrendering a leadoff double to Kyle Seager, he eventually escaped without a run scoring, inducing a double-play ground ball from Peguero. Pomeranz had shown improvement in his last two starts, but Saturday left his Cactus league ERA at 5.54.
Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez gave up eight hits, struck out four and forced nine ground-ball outs. He has a 1.50 Cactus League ERA in four appearances. The Rockies' Eric Young Jr. doubled to begin the bottom of the first and eventually scored on Wilin Rosario's sacrifice fly, but Ramirez avoided trouble for most of the rest of his outing.
Ramirez allowed runners on base every inning, but continually worked his way out of trouble.
"I felt like he got better as the day wore on," said Wedge. "He was a little bit up early and they got to him, but he controlled the damage, and that's something you always like to see, particularly with a starting pitcher. His stuff continued to get better, he was more consistently down and using all of his pitches later in the ball game. And he was obviously very efficient. He made a few mistakes, but righted them."
The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon, in his first Cactus League action since March 1, returned from an infection in his right knee to double twice against Ramirez. Reid Brignac knocked an RBI double off Ramirez in the sixth inning. The Rockies' Jordan Pacheco went 2-for-3 to lift his Cactus League batting average to .407.
Up next for Mariners: Felix Hernandez makes his third spring start on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PT., but he'll be throwing in a Minor League game against the Reds on one of the Mariners' practice fields. At the same time, his Mariners teammates will be taking on the American League West rival Rangers in a Cactus League game at Peoria Stadium, with Blake Beavan scheduled to start and pitch four innings. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has been held out the past seven days after feeling some tightness in his legs, is expected to return to action as manager Eric Wedge begins gearing his club up for the final two weeks of camp. The Cactus League game will be televised live on ROOT Sports in Seattle and also is available on MLB.TV.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.