The Seattle Mariners are giving top arms Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez an extra day of rest while hoping Erasmo Ramirez can help them to a series win.
The 24-year-old will try to properly spell the club's taxed starters Tuesday night against the visiting New York Mets as the home team tries to secure the first two contests in the three-game set.
"I think it's for the benefit of the entire staff, not just two pitchers," manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB's official website. "This is a grind. Nothing was more grueling than the (July 18-20) series in Anaheim. This is a grind. If people think it's easy to go out there every five days and throw 110 pitches, it's tough. When you can take care of them and give them an extra day, particularly for their legs and arm, just do it."
Seattle (53-46) opened the series with Monday's 5-2 victory behind three-hit efforts from Willie Bloomquist and Dustin Ackley. Ackley is 8 for 18 over four games, and the left fielder also pulled back a sure home run off the bat of Travis d'Arnaud in the sixth inning to keep the score at 4-1.
The converted infielder hasn't made an error in his first full season away from second base.
"How about that catch?" McClendon said. "I think it really goes back to the work he put in in spring training ... and he really, really worked hard to improve his outfield play, and he continues to work hard."
Ramirez (1-4, 4.58 ERA), who was demoted on June 25, hasn't won since his first start of the season on April 1. He went 0-4 with a 4.89 ERA in 10 starts after, though he allowed a total of just two earned runs over his last four major league starts.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.77 ERA and .337 opponent batting average in five career starts against the NL.
Bettering Jacob deGrom will be no easy task. In addition to the Mariners' .243 average against right-handers ranking better than only Houston in the AL, the rookie has been very good lately.
In two victories leading into the All-Star break, the New York right-hander surrendered a run and 12 hits while striking out 19 in 14 innings. On July 13, deGrom (3-5, 3.18) limited Miami to a run and five hits in seven innings of a 9-1 win. His manager is seeing success even when he's not at his sharpest.
"He didn't even have his best stuff today and did a great job," Terry Collins said.
The Mets (46-53) might need him at his best after totaling three runs and two extra-base hits in three straight losses. They've matched a season high with five straight games without a home run.
"You look at every game since the All-Star break and we've been outhomered," Collins said. "That was what was getting us going, and you're not going to ask guys to start swinging for the fences, but it helps out when we hit the ball out of the ballpark."
Collins has been looking forward to the inclusion of a designated hitter while in Seattle to spice things up. His club is batting .260 with nine homers in six games at AL parks this season compared to a .239 average with 65 homers in 93 games without the DH.
Seattle's Robinson Cano is batting .472 in his last eight games and .359 in 10 games against the NL this season.