- Associated Press - Friday, July 28, 2017

SEATTLE (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays continued to bolster their bullpen for the pennant race on Friday, acquiring reliever Steve Cishek from the Seattle Mariners for versatile right-hander Erasmo Ramirez.

It was a surprising deal between teams that are competing for the same thing, a wild card spot in the American League. Tampa Bay began the day with the second wild card spot in the AL, with Seattle 3 1/2 games behind.

Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto said he had little hesitation making a deal with a team the Mariners are competing with.

“At the end of the day we control our own destiny. We go play them and they play us. We know Steve, but we also know Erasmo,” Dipoto said.

Cishek had appeared in 23 games this season for Seattle after recovering from major offseason hip surgery. Cishek was 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA, mostly working in the seventh and eighth innings out of Seattle’s bullpen. He was a closer in the past with the Marlins.

It was the second move for a reliever in as many days by Tampa Bay. On Thursday, the Rays acquired left-handed reliever Dan Jennings from the Chicago White Sox. Tampa Bay also nabbed first baseman Lucas Duda from the New York Mets on Thursday and has made a flurry of moves to bolster its roster ahead of next Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

The Rays also added right-hander Sergio Romo in the past week to try to solidify the bullpen. Tampa Bay intends to use Romo and Cishek somewhere between the sixth and eighth innings.

Ramirez is making a return to the team he broke into the majors with. Ramirez has appeared in 26 games, with eight starts, for the Rays this year and was 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA. He was with the Mariners from 2012-14 before being dealt to Tampa Bay before the 2015 season.

Ramirez was primarily a starter in his first season with the Rays, but has mixed starting and relieving each of the past two seasons.

Seattle is going to begin Ramirez in the rotation, although it’s still to be determined if that will be his long-term role with the club. He is scheduled to start for the Mariners on Tuesday in Texas.

Dipoto was also pleased with acquiring a potential starting pitcher that is under club control through the 2019 season.

“Right now the multi-inning capability and the starting ability of Erasmo Ramirez just makes far more sense for our roster,” Dipoto said. “And it sets us up as we head toward a free agent market this coming offseason for starting pitching that’s not a particularly deep group, therefore Erasmo Ramirez presents an option that didn’t otherwise exist.”

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