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Pruitt gets call to begin home set vs. Mariners

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

The Mariners open a 12-game East Coast road trip on Friday at Tampa Bay with a familiar face in Erasmo Ramirez squaring off against his former Rays club. Ramirez will take the hill in the opener of a three-game set at Tropicana Field between two teams fighting to stay in contention in the American League Wild Card race.

Ramirez was dealt from the Rays to the Mariners on July 28 for reliever Steve Cishek. Seattle moved him immediately into its short-handed rotation, and he's gone 0-1 with a 4.40 ERA in three starts, though the 27-year-old is coming off by far his best outing.

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The Mariners open a 12-game East Coast road trip on Friday at Tampa Bay with a familiar face in Erasmo Ramirez squaring off against his former Rays club. Ramirez will take the hill in the opener of a three-game set at Tropicana Field between two teams fighting to stay in contention in the American League Wild Card race.

Ramirez was dealt from the Rays to the Mariners on July 28 for reliever Steve Cishek. Seattle moved him immediately into its short-handed rotation, and he's gone 0-1 with a 4.40 ERA in three starts, though the 27-year-old is coming off by far his best outing.

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Ramirez allowed just one run on three hits in six innings against the Angels in a no-decision on Saturday, and he will look to continue stretching out now against a team that used him as a reliever and starter over his three years with Tampa Bay.

The Rays will counter with rookie right-hander Austin Pruitt, who is 6-3 with a 5.07 ERA in 22 games (five starts), as they open a six-game homestand. Pruitt moved into the rotation after Ramirez's trade, and he is 1-2 with a 3.47 ERA in four starts since.

The 27-year-old Texan gave up four hits and three runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Indians in his past outing.

Mariners manager Scott Servais said his club must welcome the challenge of the lengthy road trek just as it did earlier this month. Seattle went 6-3 on a trip to open August, then lost five in a row upon returning to Safeco Field for its only homestand of the month.

"We said we'd embrace it. Bring it on," Servais said. "I think the guys have enjoyed that. Obviously we didn't bring it much on this homestand. I think maybe we left it on the road. But we'll try to win the series in Tampa and get the ball rolling again. We certainly have the team to do that.

"If you look at all the teams that are bunched in the American League right now, we all have our deficiencies. There's a reason nobody has been able to win eight or nine in a row, or eight of 10 even. It's win three or four, lose three or four and go back and forth. Every team has done it. It's who can hang in there the longest and then maybe get hot right at the end. My guess is it'll probably be somebody's offense that takes it to the next level."

Things to know about this game

• The Rays will get outfielder Kevin Kiermaier back from the disabled list, and he'll jump right into the starting lineup, manager Kevin Cash told MLB Network Radio earlier on Friday. The Gold Glove center fielder has been out since June 8, when he sustained a hairline fracture in his right hip.

• Ramirez began his career with the Mariners and pitched well against Tampa Bay in that time. He owns a 1-0 record and 2.16 ERA in four games (three starts) against the Rays.

• The two teams have been frequent trade partners in the past two years, and Ramirez is far from the only player facing his former teammates. Former Mariners now playing for the Rays include Cishek, first baseman Logan Morrison, second baseman Brad Miller and backup catcher Jesus Sucre.

• Ramirez has thrown 71.4 percent strikes since moving from the Rays' bullpen to the Mariners' rotation. That's the highest rate among more than 100 pitchers with at least 200 pitches thrown this month.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Austin Pruitt, Erasmo Ramirez