BOSTON -- Through the first two months of the season, JC Ramirez had improbably established himself as the best pitcher in the Angels' rotation. That changed when the calendar flipped to June.Over the course of this month, Ramirez fell into the deepest slump of his nascent career as a starter
BOSTON -- Through the first two months of the season, JC Ramirez had improbably established himself as the best pitcher in the Angels' rotation. That changed when the calendar flipped to June.
Over the course of this month, Ramirez fell into the deepest slump of his nascent career as a starter and entered Saturday with an 8.53 ERA in four June outings. But the 28-year-old right-hander took a step toward putting those woes behind him on Saturday night, tossing six innings of one-run ball to lead the Angels to a 6-3 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Ramirez, a converted reliever, allowed four hits, walked none and struck out five in the 95-pitch effort, rebounding from his last outing against the Royals on Sunday, when he surrendered five runs over three innings in the shortest start of his career.
"It gave me my confidence back," Ramirez said. "The last outing was kind of tough for me. You've got a lot of thoughts after those outings. You start thinking a lot. I just came here today trying to simplify everything, and that worked."
Saturday began ominously for Ramirez, who needed 39 pitches to get through the first two innings. He began the second by surrendering a 418-foot solo shot to Mitch Moreland, which tied the game at 1. Ramirez then gave up a single to Andrew Benintendi and hit Jackie Bradley Jr. on the foot to put a pair of runners on base with one out.
But Ramirez worked out of the jam by inducing groundouts from Christian Vazquez and Deven Marrero to kickstart a string of 11 consecutive retired batters.
"I did an adjustment at the right time with my slider," Ramirez said. "Especially me, if I don't have my slider, it's going to be rough for me. I figured out today that was the thing that helped me."
Ramirez's next test came in the sixth, when he yielded a leadoff double to Mookie Betts. He dodged trouble by coaxing a popout from Dustin Pedroia and groundouts from Xander Bogaerts and Moreland, preserving the Angels' 3-1 lead. After recording the final out of his night, Ramirez emphatically pumped his fist before retreating to the dugout.
"What was really impressive with JC tonight was how he gathered himself, minimized damage, [and] got some big outs," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's a really strong outing for JC, and it was important to us."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.