"I think I did a big part [in proving that]," Ramirez said. "I did my best and showed everybody that I'm not afraid, and I brought confidence, even if I don't have the best [velocity]. That made me feel comfortable."
In his first two starts this season, Ramirez had surrendered 10 runs -- nine earned -- in 7 1/3 innings, but he quickly began to make amends for those outings Thursday night.
Three pitches in he allowed a single to Jacoby Ellsbury, but Ramirez managed to set down the next three batters and strand the center fielder at third base. It would be the last time New York would get a runner in scoring position while Ramirez was on the mound.
Over the next four innings, Ramirez allowed just two other baserunners, both of which came via walks -- one in the second and the other in the fourth.
"I was just trying to mix everything, because I've just been throwing fastball-changeup to them because I've just been in relief appearances against them," Ramirez said. "When I got the chance to start, I had to show them I had more than two pitches. I have my cutter and I have my curveball … and I had to just execute my pitches."
Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that he would ultimately like to have the fifth spot in his pitching rotation be permanently filled instead of it being chosen on a start-by-start basis due to injuries to Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly.
With this outing, Ramirez made his claim to fill the void.
"We're looking for one, but we knew this is kind of how we planned it once we found out on some of the injuries," Cash said. "He's done a nice job. This was obviously his best start that he's had, but he's had some really strong outings where he's come in against some good lineups and thrown strikes."
Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com.