Manny Ramirez’s 500th career homerun seals the deal as Sox take Game 2 against Baltimore


Manny Ramirez’s 500th career homerun seals the deal as Sox take Game 2 against Baltimore

(May 31, 2008) – Friday and Saturday nights in Baltimore during the school year are student nights where college students can get in for a small fee of $5. Well the hundreds of thousands of students who benefit from MICUA* (the Maryland Independent College and University Association) and paid the $5 for last night’s game got to witness history as well as the Red Sox’s 6-3 victory.

In the top of the seventh inning, Manny Ramirez lifted his 500th career homerun into the bleachers in right center field off former Sox pitcher Chad Bradford. Bradford joins the likes of Melido Perez, Tanyon Sturtze, Dave Eiland, Ramon Ortiz and Gil Meche who allowed all of Ramirez’s milestone homeruns (first, 100th, 200th, 300th and 400th, respectively).

Ramirez’s homerun in the seventh was the second run of the inning. Before the Sox left fielder stepped to the dish looking for the illustrious 500th homerun, Boston had already taken the lead for good. Ellsbury led off the inning with a triple into the gap in right center. After Dustin Pedroia grounded out to shortstop – with the infield pulled in – David Ortiz lifted a sacrifice fly ball to left that pushed across the go-ahead and ultimately winning run. It was Ortiz’s second RBI of the game.

The Orioles jumped on the board first with a two-run second on three weak base hits. Millar led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on Hernandez’s base hit into left field. Another former Red Sox, Jay Payton drove in Millar on squibbler down the third base line. Center fielder Adam “I’m not Pac-Man” Jones lined a base hit into center for Baltimore’s second run of the game.

Baltimore’s two-run advantage would only last until the third batter of the third when Ortiz tied up the game with his 13th homerun of the season on the back end of back-to-back homeruns. Before Ortiz stepped to the plate, Pedroia hit his fourth homerun of the season to cut the Orioles lead in half.

As former Yankee catcher and Hall of Famer, Yogi Berrea once said “it was deja-vu all over again,” when the Red Sox and Orioles took the field on Saturday night. No you were not watching a replay of yesterday’s Sox-O’s game. Once again these two teams could not score more than two runs a piece for the first 4.1 innings. Orioles second baseman and son of a former UNC baseball coach, Brian Roberts broke up the tie game with his fourth homerun of the season in fifth.

After Roberts solo homerun in the fifth, Jon Lester ran into a bit of difficulty. Right fielder Nick Markakis lined a double down the left line past the out stretched arm of Manny Ramirez. It appeared as if Lester was not going to make it through the fifth inning after he walked Kevin Millar (for the second time) and Aubrey Huff back-to-back to load the bases with two outs in the inning. The Sox had right handed reliever David Aardsma warming up in the bullpen to come on for Lester should the left hander struggle. But Lester would make catcher Ramon Hernandez nothing but a figment of the past by striking out the Baltimore catcher for his fourth strike out of the game and third out of the inning.

It would also end up being the last inning for Lester. Meaning the Sox lefty could not get the win but only the loss. But fortunately his cohort and Ramirez were able to take care of things and give the Red Sox their 34th victory on the season. In five innings, Lester allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking three.

The Sox would tie up the game in the top of the sixth when Mike Lowell was hit by Lance Cormier, who came in at the beginning of the inning in relief of starter Garrett Olson. With Kevin Youkilis at the dish, Cormier stuttered on the mound as he was ready to deliver the second pitch to Youkilis. According to baseball statistical rules, this constitutes a balk and Lowell was able to advance on to second base on the play. Youkilis would advance Lowell to third on a base hit just under shortstop Alex Cintron’s glove.

Sox captain Jason Varitek is known more for his defensive work than for his production at the dish but last night the Sox catcher came through with his second base hit of the night. Varitek’s single to left drove in Lowell to even up the score at three a piece. Center field Coco Crisp would reached on a fielder’s choice –first to short – moving Youkilis up to third. Shortstop Julio Lugo ended the inning with a pop up to Roberts who snow-coned the final out of the inning.

The Sox will deal with another Baltimore left hander on Sunday afternoon at Oriole Park when they face 27-year-old, Oregon native Brian Burres. The Orioles left hander is 4-4 on the season with a 4.15 ERA, 29 strike outs, 18 walks and a 1.35 WHIP and will be opposed by the 2-0 Bartolo Colon, who is making his third start of the season.

Burres is coming off a very poor, 3.2-inning outing against the Yankees where he allowed eight runs on 10 hits including four homeruns. Against the Red Sox, he has pitched in eight games with one start and he is 1-0 with a 3.07 ERA, 9-9 strike out to walk ratio and a 1.56 WHIP. Sox batters are hitting at a .250 clip against the Baltimore left hander as well in 14.2 innings.

After starting the season on the disabled list and pitching in a few rehab games in Pawtucket, Colon is in search of his third win of the season. If he receives the win Sunday’s matinee with the Orioles, he will have reached his third win faster than teammate Jon Lester. Colon is coming of a 5-3 win against the Seattle Mariners up in Washington state, where he pitched seven strong innings allowing one run on five hits while striking out four and walking one. Colon has made 17 starts against the Orioles and has eight wins and six losses to show for it in 113 innings. Along with an 8-6 record, he also has a 3.27 ERA, a 3-2 strike out-to-walk ratio and a 1.38 WHIP against Baltimore. Oriole batters are hitting at a .257 clip against the former Cy Young Award winner as well.

WIN: David Aardsma (2-1)

LOSS: Lance Cormier (0-2)

SAVE: Jonathan Papelbon (16)


Game Notes:

David Ortiz left the game in the middle of his fifth at-bat in the top of ninth inning. Sean Casey replaced him at the plate with a 3-2 count.

After being put on the 15-day disabled list yesterday, starter Daisuke Matsuzaka has begun his shoulder strengthening program and hopes to return as soon as he is eligible on June 14.

The Red Sox have activated Clay Buchholz from the 15-day disabled list from a broken finger nail on his throwing hand. He will make a few rehab assignments in Pawtucket and probably will remain down their for a while due to the full house of pitchers at the Major League level. But GM Theo Epstein, Terry Francona and John Farrell have and will continue to meet to discuss the young, 23-year-old’s plans for the future.

J.D. Drew sits out another game after experiencing symptoms of vertigo yesterday when he woke up in his Baltimore hotel room. (Although my personal experience is that any Baltimore hotel room can do that to you.)

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Manny Ramirez, BOSTON ---- 1-4 Homerun, RBI 500th Career homerun
  1. Jason Varitek, BOSTON ---- 3-4 Double, RBI
  1. Nick Markakis, BALTIMORE ---- 2-4 2 Doubles

(* MICUA is the Maryland Independent College and University Association and it provides support and additional services to those independent colleges and universities in the state of Maryland. Click the link in the story to find out more about the organization if you wish.)

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