Before Cesar Ramos took the mound, Joe Maddon raved about how the left-hander had made the transition from reliever to starter and pitched well with Tampa Bay's pitching staff thinned by injuries.
Then Ramos got battered for three innings by Seattle's bats and got no help from a shaky defensive night by the Rays.
Ramos was knocked around early by the Mariners in their 12-5 win over the Rays that included video reviews on consecutive batters in the first inning and Seattle ace Felix Hernandez getting ejected in the seventh inning.
"We got ambushed. We just sashayed into the canyon and they were firing from both sides," Maddon said.
Ramos had allowed only nine total runs and 18 hits all season. By the end of the third inning, he'd given up 11 hits and nine runs -- although only five of those were earned because of four errors in the first two innings by Tampa Bay's defense.
The Rays committed three errors in the second inning, tying a franchise record. It was a difficult opening to a West Coast road trip for Maddon's crew.
"They came out aggressive and I took too long to adjust," Ramos said. "I started pitching backward later and started having more success."
Even though Ramos got battered, he settled down and helped save Tampa Bay's bullpen by getting through 6 2-3 innings. He didn't allow a hit after the third, retiring the final 12 batters he faced. He set career bests for innings pitched and pitches (114) although few will look beyond the rough beginning.
"I appreciate him even more for what he did after the bad start," Maddon said. "A lot of guys would not do what he did, the way he saved the rest of the staff. A lot of guys would have caved right there and he did not cave."
Hernandez (4-1) won for the first time in more than a month. He took a shutout bid into the seventh inning, then gave up a three-run double to Ryan Hanigan with two outs and was pulled.
At that point, Hernandez was fuming about the strike zone of plate umpire Mark Ripperger. On his way off the mound, Hernandez had a few words for Ripperger.
Hernandez said he couldn't repeat anything he uttered.
"I'm sure he got his money's worth. I didn't understand everything he said," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I kind of knew it was going to happen because he was not happy."
Hernandez rebounded from a rough last four starts. It was his first start for the Rays since Aug. 15, 2012, when he tossed a perfect game at Safeco Field.
Asked his thoughts on giving Hernandez a big early lead, Maddon said, "That's called being sub-optimal."
James Jones doubled, singled and scored in each of the first three innings as the Mariners took a 9-0 lead. Robinson Cano drove in Jones twice.
They weren't alone at providing production at the top of Seattle's order. Stefan Romero homered, doubled and singled and Corey Hart had two hits and two RBIs. Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer and Mike Zunino added a solo shot for Seattle.
The rare back-to-back replays came in the first inning as Cano and then Hart both barely missed home runs on fly balls that hit the yellow line atop the fence and bounced back. Umpires ruled both balls in play, and their calls were confirmed.
Cano wound up with a double on his drive to left field, Hart was thrown out trying for a double on his shot to right.
"That was pretty weird. You had nothing to lose by asking them to review them," McClendon said.
NOTES: Rays LHP David Price will make his first career start at Safeco Field on Tuesday. It's just his second start against Seattle in his career. ... Cano has reached safely in 21 straight games.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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