Early that morning, the reliever was wiped out by a stomach bug that struck before dawn and kept him from the ballpark for that night’s home game against the Baltimore Orioles. By 10:30 p.m., he was finally asleep when a team doctor called to check in.
“We were just talking,” Ramirez said. “He didn’t mention what was going on.”
It wasn’t until Ramirez hung up that he saw his team was going into extra innings.
“Of course this would happen,” he thought.
Ramirez considered making a late dash to Angel Stadium. Fellow reliever Cam Bedrosian half-jokingly texted him, “I’ll have your uniform ready.” But, having eaten only half a bowl of white rice all day, Ramirez stayed home and watched on TV as the club burned through its bullpen and Friday’s originally scheduled starter Griffin Canning in a 16-inning loss.
“I couldn’t go to sleep because I kept watching the game,” Ramirez said. “I already apologized to Griff.”
The Angels’ four-game series against the last-place Orioles was supposed to be a chance for them to make up ground in the wild-card chase. They entered Friday trailing Oakland by four games for the final playoff spot.
But Ramirez’s unfortunate timing, coupled with Thursday’s unforgivingly long game — the Angels came back from a one-run deficit in the ninth and a three-run hole in the 15th before falling 10-8 — left the already diminished pitching staff in an even deeper hole.
Manager Brad Ausmus insisted he woke up feeling refreshed after sleeping until nearly noon Friday. His suddenly restricted roster of relievers, however, had given him a managerial headache by the time he met with the media before the game.
“The game last night stung in two ways because we lost and we depleted our pitching staff,” Ausmus said. “We’re going to need some other guys to step up.”
With Canning forced to skip Friday’s start — he isn’t scheduled to appear again until Tuesday — Nick Tropeano was recalled from triple-A Salt Lake to take the bump instead. To make room on the roster, reliever Adalberto Mejia was designated for assignment despite tossing three hitless innings Thursday.
“Quite frankly, it sucks,” Ausmus said. “We’d much rather have him here. Clearly, we’re in a little bit of dire straits in terms of pitching availability. It’s not something we wanted to do, but unfortunately something we had to do.”
Tropeano pitched five innings Friday, surrendering seven runs in the first two. The plans for Saturday, which was supposed to be a bullpen game, also have been complicated. Ausmus hinted it might take some patchwork pitching for them to get back on schedule.
“You play 16 innings and use that many pitchers, the next couple days are going to be rough on a pitching staff,” Ausmus said. “I’m going to put all the pressure on the hitting coaches,” he joked. “We need some double-digit runs. Unfortunately that’s not easy to come by in baseball.”
Jonathan Lucroy’s rehab stint pushed back
Injured catcher Jonathan Lucroy will begin his rehabilitation assignment with single-A Inland Empire on Saturday instead of Friday, as originally planned. Lucroy, who spent Friday afternoon taking full swings at Angel Stadium, said the change was for scheduling reasons and not because of any injury setback. Lucroy has been on the injured list since suffering a concussion and broken nose in a home plate collision on July 7.