March 28 – Happy Birthday Edwar Ramirez
It was the day before Independence Day in 2007 and the Yankees were hammering the Twins 8-0 in a night game at the old Yankee Stadium. Chien-Ming Wang had started the game and pitched shutout ball for seven innings before Joe Torre pulled him and let Scott Proctor start the eighth. Proctor kept the Twins scoreless that inning and Torre picked the mop-up top of the ninth of that contest to debut the Yankees newest relief pitcher. His name was Edwar Ramirez. I remember when I first saw the spelling, I thought someone had forgotten the second “d” in his first name. I remember when I first saw Edwar, that someone had forgotten to feed him. He was six feet three inches tall and when the television camera got an angle of him standing sideways on the mound, he just about disappeared. This guy was skinny.
His pitches must have looked just as skinny on that evening of his Yankee debut, because in that bottom of the ninth inning against Minnesota, Ramirez struck out all three hitters he faced. Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Lew Ford all went down swinging at third strikes. As you can imagine, that performance caused a bit of a buzz in the Stadium’s stands and press box that evening and suddenly, all eyes were on Ramirez.
His best pitch was his change up and he threw a very good one. The problem was he had a tough time throwing his fastball for strikes so he tended to throw lots of change ups. The problem with that is the change up is most effective when hitters don’t expect it. Opposing teams simply started waiting for Edwar’s change up. Just two weeks after his impressive debut, Torre brought in Ramirez with the Yankees behind Tampa Bay 4-0, with two outs and a man on second and when he left there was still two outs, the score was now 9-0 and there were two more Rays still on base. After that game, the bewildered rookie was found crying in front of his locker.
Mariano Rivera was a huge help to Ramirez at this time. When he was sent back down to the minors, The Sand Man urged him to work on getting control of his fastball and that’s exactly what the kid did. He was a different pitcher at the beginning of the 2008 season for new Yankee Manager, Joe Girardi. In his first 13 appearances he had 15 strikeouts in 13.5 innings and did not give up a single earned run. He couldn’t keep up that pace but the 2008 season would be the best of his career. He appeared in 55 games, won five of his six decisions and finished with an ERA of 3.90. But after that strong start to his year, you could see his control problems reappear and it got to a point late in the 2008 season that you didn’t know what to expect from Ramirez when he was put into a game.
He struggled mightily to regain his form in 2009 but this time a return trip to the minors did not help. The Yankees gave up on him in March of 2010 and sold him to Oakland. The A’s released him following the 2010 season. In 2011, Ramirez was pitching in the Mexican league. He shares his March 28th birthday with this great post WWII Yankee starting pitcher and this other former Yankee reliever.