"I saw a big league pitcher tonight," Tampa manager Luis Sojo said. "That's the best I've seen this guy throw the ball over the last two years. It was amazing. You could tell he was lights out.
"It was a good night. He threw a no-hitter but the kid on the other side was unbelievable too. I'm glad for Ramirez because he needs this kind of game. This guy's got so much potential and he needs his confidence. If he continues to throw the ball like that, you never know."
Ramirez had electric stuff all night, which isn't surprising given that some nights he can trot out three plus pitches. It was his command, however, of those three pitches that allowed him to take his game to a completely different level.
"Just coming out from his bullpen, he looked real sharp in his bullpen," Tampa pitching coach Jeff Ware said. "Usually he takes the bullpen stuff with him to the mound and usually with most guys it's vice versa.
"When he came out from the first pitch on he had life with the fastball; he was missing bats with his fastball, he ran some fastballs in on some right-handers hands, he was able to get his fastball to the glove side and kind of keep hitters off-balance so they couldn't sit on just one side of the plate, he used his slider well tonight and he kept everything down. That was probably the biggest thing, he kept everything down.
"The slider stayed short with some depth to it and his bread and butter is his changeup. He had that going tonight with plus command of his changeup. He pretty much could throw it whenever he wanted. He got swings and misses early in the count, late in the count, he had some bottom to it. He dominated the game tonight."
Ramirez was seemingly ahead of every batter he faced, thanks in large part to a dominating fastball that averaged nearly 96 mph the entire night. He was still hitting 97 mph in the sixth inning, just like he had done in the first inning too.
"I know he's going to use his fastball. He has such a good arm and tonight he wasn't afraid to throw his fastball," Sojo said. "In the past his problem was he'd fall in love with his changeup and his breaking ball, he didn't want to use his fastball.
"He got ahead of the hitters tonight with his fastball. He threw a lot of fastball today. We're always telling him, 'you have to use your fastball more' because with his changeup and breaking ball, they can't touch him. It just disappears on the hitters. He showed that he's a pitcher tonight."
Showcasing a power fastball and a plus changeup, however, has never been Ramirez's problem. It was his slider on Thursday that brought his entire game together.
"It's getting close," Ware said of Ramirez's slider. "Being that this is his first year [with the slider] we're real excited he uses it, has a decent feel for it, and can throw it for strikes. He used it tonight.
"He threw it for strikes and got a couple of swings and misses with it. The biggest thing is he kept it down in the zone and he located it, not just down but to the glove side. Sometimes in the past it would back up here and there. It was just so consistent tonight as well as his other two pitches."
"I'm happy with it," Ramirez said of his slider through the help of a translator. "I know it's working a lot better than it has in the past. It's still not there but it's working a lot better. Before it was a little like a cutter but now it has more depth and it can still be a lot better than [it was tonight]."
If there's one not so silver lining to the storybook performance on Thursday it was the fact that Ramirez never got the opportunity to complete the no-hitter on his own, giving way to reliever Branden Pinder in the seventh inning.
"I wasn't too bummed out because I knew the guy coming up behind me [Pinder] was going to the job," Ramirez said. "In the moment I felt a little sad because I wanted to finish it but I realized I had done my job."
"I wish I had the power to bring him out [for the seventh inning] because you don't see that too often," Sojo added. "He had 85 pitches [allotment] today but he only threw 67, but that's the rule -- either you go 85 pitches or six innings, whichever comes first. I'm okay with it as long as guys stay healthy."
While it would have been great to let Ramirez finish what he started, it was an organizational decision to not push him too far on the heels of recently getting back from a mild lat strain.
"As much as I would have loved to -- I know he had some pitches left -- we have certain rules we have to abide by in our organization," Ware said. "Just getting back from a minor injury about a month ago, we're trying to build his innings up.
"Not only do you have to build innings up but you have to build pitch counts up too. We're pretty strict about that. The number one thing is his health. As much as we wanted him to go seven innings, it just wasn't in the cards tonight."
Regardless of decision, it doesn't take away from what was an absolutely dominating performance. Should he continue to showcase the slider he had on Thursday there's no telling how far his game could develop.
"Oh yeah, today it was amazing. We know he throws hard and we know he's got a great changeup; his breaking ball is a problem and tonight he showed he can have a good one.
"I'm happy for him. If he continues to work that way we might have a good guy in the future," Sojo concluded.
Ramirez Looked Like A Big Leaguer
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