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SEA@CHC: Ramirez dominates Cubs over six frames

ANAHEIM -- After throwing Felix Hernandez at the Angels on Opening Day, the Mariners will come back with a far less experienced hurler today with right-hander Erasmo Ramirez filling in for injured All-Star Hisashi Iwakuma in the No. 2 starter's role against the Halos' C.J. Wilson.

But the 23-year-old from Nicaragua said he's not putting extra pressure on himself just because it's the second game of the season as the Mariners look to build on Monday's 10-3 victory at Angel Stadium.

"Whether it's the first, the 10th or the 20th game, I always feel like today is the day. I just have to do all I can," said Ramirez, who is 6-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 30 appearances over parts of the past two seasons with Seattle. "I'll give 100 percent, 200 percent, and just go as deep as I can into the game."

He'll face a seasoned foe in Wilson, who was the only Angels starter who took every turn last year. Wilson went 17-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 212 1/3 innings, but he was just OK in April, with a 4.30 ERA in five starts.

Consequently, the Angels southpaw attacked Spring Training more aggressively in hopes of getting off to a better start. A 1.88 ERA in 28 2/3 innings this spring has him in the right frame of mind.

"I felt like if I didn't have an average April, I would've had a better season overall," Wilson said of 2013. "I felt like I had a good season, but I'm trying to be better than I was last year; trying to pick up where I left off."

Ramirez also had a strong spring as he posted a 3-0 record and 1.14 ERA in six Cactus League appearances. He's made three starts against the Angels in the past two years, but has yet to notch his first win, as he's 0-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 18 2/3 innings vs. the Halos.

While his Major League experience is limited, he said it's beneficial to have faced the Angels in the past.

"Yeah, that helps a lot," Ramirez said. "You've got an idea what they look like and they've got an idea about you. But the difference is they don't know what I was working on in Spring Training because I never faced them.

"Now I have a couple ways to throw different pitches, so I can use that like a secret weapon," he said with a laugh. "But no, it's more about thinking about what's working that day. That's the big deal. Just mix it up and use all my pitches."

Ramirez missed the first half of 2013 as he returned from a sore forearm, then went 5-3 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 appearances.

Angels: Scioscia also seeks better start
The month of April isn't supposed to make or break your season, but it essentially has for the Angels the last two years.

The Angels have the fourth-worst April winning percentage the previous two seasons, going 8-15 in 2012 and 9-17 in 2013. In response, the Angels tweaked their program this spring, getting a lot more aggressive with their pitchers and having their hitters take many more swings. The Angels open the season with 12 straight games against teams who finished the 2013 season with a sub-.500 record.

"If I had my druthers, yeah, I would love to have a good start," Scioscia said. "But if you kind of stub your toe a little bit in April, it doesn't mean that a team like this, with the potential that we have and the depth that we have, is not going to turn it on and get back into a race and reach your goal. Naturally, you want to get off to a good start. We're focusing on the process of what we need to do to get off to a good start, and I think areas like the bullpen and our rotation being further along now hopefully can lead to that."

Mariners: Cano bringing new look to lineup
Robinson Cano made his debut in a Mariners uniform on Monday, drawing a chorus of boos from fans at Angel Stadium during pregame introductions before going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored.

The Mariners are counting on the five-time All-Star to provide a big bat in the middle of their lineup, a quality glove at second base and a strong influence in the clubhouse with their youthful team.

"He came probably more than advertised as far as the quality of person and his desire to win and help young players on this team," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "On a scale of one-to-10, he's probably been a 15."

As for his talent level?

"Twenty," McClendon said with a laugh.

Worth noting
• The Mariners and Angels are facing each other in a season-opening series for the 10th time, but only the third time in the past 23 seasons. Seven of Seattle's first 15 opening series were against the Angels, but that tradition dwindled in recent years and the two squads hadn't faced off on Opening Day since 2006.

• The Angels got off to 4-8 starts the last two years, but are hoping for a better jump out of the game this year. They open the season with 12 straight games against teams who finished below .500 in 2013 -- five games against the Mariners, four against the Astros and three against the Mets.

• Hernandez became the first pitcher in Major League history with seven Opening Day starts before the age of 28 on Monday when he faced the Angels. Bert Blyleven, Dennis Eckersley, Dwight Gooden and Fernando Valenzuela each started six openers before their 28th birthdays. Hernandez turns 28 on April 8. Comments