Manny Ramirez made his return to the United States after playing professional baseball in Taiwan. On July 3rd, Ramirez signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers, and he has been playing very well since. (more)
The ‘Manny Being Manny’ circus will no longer be a part of the everyday talks in Boston as the 36-year old left-fielder was traded right before yesterday’s 4pm deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three team blockbuster deal.
Throughout the day, talks circled around a three team negotiation that would send Manny Ramirez out of Boston but these discussions appeared to be dormant around 2pm and dead by 3:30pm. The original teams involved in the talks were rumored to be Boston, Pittsburgh and Florida but apparently Florida dropped out of the negotiations in the mid afternoon hours which allowed for the Los Angeles Dodgers to jump in.
The three teams worked quickly and were able to pull off a last minute deal which sends Ramirez to the Dodgers. Boston relief pitcher Craig Hansen and OF prospect Brandon Moss go to the Pittsburgh Pirates as well as LA’s 3B Andy LaRoche and pitching prospect Bryan Morris. In return, the Pirates send OF Jason Bay to Boston to fill Ramirez’s spot in left field.
With the deal done, all three organizations feel like they are winners in the trade. LA fills the void of a power bat in their line up with Ramirez and hopefully takes some pressure off of Andruw Jones who has struggled in the clean up spot all season long. Pittsburgh receives four young prospects and no longer has to worry about the large contract that Bay was carrying for next season. Boston receives a younger outfielder that has proven himself in the National League as a dependable hitter with a great lifetime on base percentage, and rids themselves of all of the drama surrounding Ramirez in the clubhouse.
One person who is very excited about the trade is Dodgers manager, former Yankees skipper as well, Joe Torre.
“When a player like Manny becomes available, I don’t think there’s a manager in baseball who wouldn’t say they’re interested,” said Torre, whose Yankees teams went toe-to-toe with Ramirez for years. “Manny’s certainly not a simple personality, that’s for sure. He’s complex. But I’ve seen him when he competes.
Torre saw Ramirez compete many times in the Red Sox vs. Yankees games and knows just what kind of raw hitting talent and power he possesses every time he swings the bat.
Former teammates of Ramirez are also happy to see that he will be joining them on the West Coast for the final two months of the season.
“It’s nice to see we’ve done something like this, to make a push for the next two months,” said Nomar Garciaparra who played with Ramirez in Boston from 2000 until he was traded in 2004. “He’ll be just fine. Manny is really a simple person. He works extremely hard. He just wants to play baseball and go home and be with his family. How can you not respect and love a guy like that?”
Another familiar face, Derek Lowe, knows that his new teammate can be a little goofy at times but he believes his career numbers allow for his antics to take place occasionally.
“I think people for some reason think he’s lazy and a bad teammate and that he doesn’t care,” Lowe said. “He’s none of the above. Does he do some goofy things? Absolutely. He does do some goofy things. But as far as preparation and knowing the game and wanting to win, there’s no way you put up those numbers year in and year out unless you’re a special talent and work at it. And he does both.”
Ramirez hit his 500th home run earlier this season, was batting .299 and led the Red Sox with 20 homers and 68 RBIs. He is one of only eight players to hit at least 20 homers in 14 consecutive seasons.
So now that the deal is officially in the books, let’s take a look at the winners, losers and everything in between from this move.
Big Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers – They get one of baseballs best power hitters for almost nothing, AND they don’t even have to pay him because part of the agreement was the Red Sox will pick up the remaining $7 million dollars owed in this year’s contract.
Winner: Boston Red Sox – Finally the adventures in left field, the Fenway Park clubhouse and media room will be coming to an end. The charismatic Ramirez is out of town and the Sox welcome a clean cut player in Bay to their organization. He may not hit for the same power numbers as Ramirez but he runs and fields better, hustles more, and most importantly, he cares.
Not a Winner Yet, But Definitely Not a Loser: Pittsburgh Pirates – Whenever you trade a proven player for prospects you’re not going to be looked at as a winner right away but there’s always that chance that the prospects become stars. They may have traded away Bay but five years ago Bay was traded to them as a prospect and look how he turned out. Give Moss and LaRoche a few years and they could be everyday players that can produce some pretty decent numbers.
Very Happy: The guys who work behind the Green Monster – Finally they can do their job in peace without Ramirez poking his head inside there every other pitch.
Not so Happy: David Ortiz – For his entire time with the Red Sox he’s had the protection of Ramirez’s bat either right in front of behind him in the lineup. Now with the slugger out of town the power hitting lefty may not be seeing as many good pitches and his walks will increase but extra base hits may drop.
Ecstatic – New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays – The most feared hitter in Boston’s lineup is out of town and they no longer have to worry about seeing him again unless they face him in the World Series. Over the years in Boston, Ramirez compiled 55 homeruns against New York and 38 against Tampa Bay so with him out of the league these two franchises couldn’t be any happier.
The fact that Manny’s not going to be in left field tonight at Fenway Park may take some time getting used to for Red Sox fans. Some will miss the tossing of his glove 10 feet over his head in between pitches, or the ridiculous underhand throws into second base after casually jogging down hits in the corner, random dives to cutoff balls thrown by his own outfield teammates, or even the occasional homerun pose after he makes solid contact with a ball that ends up staying in the yard and forces him to bust hard all the way into second for a double.
That was just Manny being Manny, and as much of a distraction as he’d become, its something that the fans of Red Sox nation will miss. That and not to mention his bat in our lineup, but this is not the first trade that GM Theo Epstein has made at the deadline that fans did not understand right away; ex. Nomar in 2004, but hopefully it pans out as the others did and the Sox find themselves back in the post-season.
Manny’s time in Boston will not be forgotten. Now that it’s all said and done with, the only thing that the Fenway Faithful can do is say thank you for his 7 ½ years of service. He was a big part of not one, but two World Series Championship clubs and over the years provided that flair that reminded fans that baseball is a sport that can still be fun, even if he sometimes acted like a 36-year old going on five.
See ya later Manny.
One night after Manny Ramirez connected on a game winning RBI single, the perennial All-Star belted a 2-run homer in Boston’s four run eighth inning to tie the score at 5-5. A few batters late, Brendan Moss delivered a clutch two out RBI single to give the Sox a 6-5 lead that they would hold onto for their second consecutive 1 run victory over the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.
“We had a terrific inning, a lot of good things happened,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Last night was what we needed, but sometimes you need a home run.”
Ramirez’s homerun was his 17th on the season and his first since June 29th against the Astros. He now has 507 career homeruns which puts him at the 23rd all-time. Next on the list is Mel Ott at 511 career dingers.
The eighth inning magic began with Jacoby Ellsbury doubling down the left field line. Ellsbury finished the game with two hits and also plated two runs. Following the extra base hit, Dustin Pedroia ripped a single up the middle to put runners at the corners with no outs. The hit was also Pedroia’s second of the game, extending his hitting streak to a career high 16 games.
J.D. Drew followed Pedroia with an RBI ground out to second that plated Ellsbury to make the score 5-3. Ramirez then slugged a belt-high fastball into the Monster seats that knotted the score at 5-5.
“I think we were in a really good situation,” Moss said. “Even though we were down by three, we had our leadoff guy coming up in Jacoby, Pedroia, who’s been on fire, J.D. and Manny. I don’t think anybody was surprised to see Manny go deep in that situation, he’s done it so much.”
After a Mike Lowell strike out, Kevin Youkilis crushed a double to deep left center with two outs to set the stage for Moss. With a 1-1 count, Moss slapped a 93 MPH fastball from Matt Gurrier into center field for the game winning RBI.
“It’s a tough loss, one we thought we had,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We made a lot of mistakes, they blooped one to left, blooped one to right and next thing you know Manny hits one into the seats.”
David Aardsma (3-2) relieved starter Jon Lester to record the final two outs in the eighth inning to earn his third victory on the season. Lester had another solid performance allowing five runs on nine hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. Lester’s streak of consecutive shutout innings ended at 12 when the Twins were able to plate three runs off of him in the fourth inning on four hits, led by a Brendan Harris triple that knocked in two runs.
Jonathan Papelbon was again able to record three outs in the ninth inning to preserve the Red Sox victory. He got into a little trouble by allowing a leadoff double to Twins SS Nick Punto in a 12 pitch at-bat but settled down to retire the next three batters. Denard Span sacrificed bunted Punto to third but the Twins were not able to push the tying run across off of Papelbon. Pinch hitter Jason Kubel struck out swinging for the second out of the inning. With two down, Alexi Casilla came to bat with a 15-game hitting streak on the line but grounded out to second finishing the night at 0-3 ending his streak and the game.
“This feels real good,” said Lester who took a no-decision on the night. “We played better than our record showed on the last road trip, but last night was a big win for us and we just continue to battle.”
Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn did all he could for Minnesota pitching 6 2/3 innings allowing only two runs on six hits. He also did not factor into the decision but with the effort, Twins starting pitchers are now 16-1 in their last 23 games with a 2.99 ERA.
In the final game of the series, the Sox will hand the ball to Josh Beckett trying to go for the sweep. Beckett is 8-5 on the season with a 3.70 ERA. Over his last four starts, Beckett has pitched very well allowing only 7 earned runs in 28 innings of work while striking out 22 batters. He’s 4-1 on the year when pitching at Fenway Park.
The Twins will send veteran starter Livan Hernandez to pitch and try to salvage one win in the series. Hernandez boasts a 9-5 record on the year with a 5.18 ERA. He’s 1-2 lifetime against Boston with a 9.00 ERA but did beat them earlier this season in Minnesota’s 7-3 win on May 12th at the Metrodome in Minnesota.
Tomorrow the Sox are off but will welcome the Baltimore Orioles to town for a three game series starting Friday. Clay Buchholtz will make his first start in the big leagues since being placed on the DL in mid May with a broken nail on his pitching hand.
Great Red Sox tickets are still available for all three weekend games.
After an awful 3-7 road trip, the Boston Red Sox happily returned home to Fenway Park Monday night and captured a 1-0 victory over the surging Minnesota Twins. The win improves Boston’s home record to 32-10 on the season, the best in the American League.
Manny Ramirez broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single in the 8th inning off of Twins relief pitcher Brian Bass (3-3) that scored Dustin Pedroia for the games only run. Pedroia had reached base with a wall ball double to left which extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games. During the streak he is hitting .485 (32-66) and has raised his season average from .282 when the streak began up to .311.
“A heck of a baseball game,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I think both teams had lots of opportunities all the way through. They finally came through and got a hit.”
Starting pitchers Dice-K Matsuzaka and Scott Baker kept their teams in the game, each pitching well enough to earn a victory even though neither factored into the decision. Matsuzaka pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, walking three and striking out five. Baker allowed five hits, walked two and struck out seven in seven innings of work.
“Obviously, with them playing at home, they play very well here,” Baker said. “I gave it everything I had. We made some great defensive plays, allowing me to continue to pitch and pitch into the seventh inning.”
The outing for Matsuzaka was his first since coming off the DL that he was able to make it through more then five innings on the hill.
“Of all our starting pitchers, I’m the only one who hasn’t been able to get really deep into the games,” he said through a translator. “So what I’ve been trying to do is go deep into the game and help out the bullpen.”
Dice-K was relived by fellow countryman Hideki Okajima who was able to escape a bases loaded jam in the eighth inning. After walking Justin Morneau to load the bases, Okajima (2-2) was able to get pinch hitter Craig Monroe to pop out in foul territory and then retire Delmon Young on a fielder’s choice to end the threat and pick up his second victory on the season
Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth inning for the final three outs and recorded his 26th save on the season. The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Twins and also snapped the Red Sox two-game losing skid.
Tonight, Boston will try to make it two in a row against the Twins when they send LHP Jon Lester (7-3, 3.21 ERA) to the mound to face off against RHP Nick Blackburn (7-4, 3.78 ERA). In Lester’s last start, he tossed a complete game shutout against New York at Yankee Stadium while Blackburn is coming off of an impressive seven inning effort in which he allowed only three hits and no runs in a win against Detroit.
In other Sox news, DH David Ortiz took live batting practice for the first time since going on the DL on May 31st before Monday night’s game. The slugger said that he ‘felt good’ but a time table has not been placed on his expected return.
The Sox also optioned RHP Justin Masterson back down to Triple-A Pawtucket to recalled 1B Jeff Bailey for the remainder of the series. The Sox plan on converting Masterson into a relief pitcher now that Clay Buchholtz is ready to return to the starting rotation after having missed almost two months spending time on the DL and in Triple-A.
Buchholtz will get the start on Friday July 11th when the Orioles are in town. It’s no coincidence that the Sox choose to reactivate their prized rookie vs. Baltimore because last September Buchholtz hurled a no-hitter at Fenway against the Orioles.
Tickets are still available for the remaining games of the homestand against Minnesota tonight and tomorrow and then also for the weekend series against Baltimore.
After nearly sweeping the Tigers in Detroit, the Boston Red Sox came into Minnesota with high hopes to continue a successful road trip against the Twins. Four games and three losses later, the Sox are back at square one and reeling to try and salvage a winning trip now with only two games remaining in Baltimore.
After a Jonathan Papelbon blown save on Friday, a 9th inning rally falling short on Sunday and a 12-hit effort gone to waste on Monday, the Red Sox leave the Twin city shaking their heads, knowing that they could have again easily swept the four game series, but this time walk away with three more games in the loss column.
Last nights defeat came at the hands of 34-year old pitcher Livan Hernandez, who looks to be not only 30 lbs overweight, but hasn’t seen a fastball touch the mid 90’s since the mid 90’s. The Sox clobbered him for 10 hits over 6 innings, but could only muster 3 runs, all of which came on Manny Ramirez’s 498 career homerun in the first inning.
“It’s tough, but you have to give the Twins credit,” Ramirez said. “They have a great bullpen that pitched great, and you have to tip your hat to them.”
Clay Buchholtz saw control problems early on in this one and didn’t make it out of the 5th inning, surrendering 8 hits, 5 walks and all 7 runs in only 4 1/3 innings. Up to this point in the season Buchholtz is 2-3 on the year and been the most inconsistent starter in the rotation, showing spots of brilliance and at other times looking like the rookie he is.
“I don’t know what anybody can tell me,” Buchholz said. “It’s sort of in my hands right now. I was leaving pitches up, and they got hit. That’s what happens.”
Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young all chipped in with two hits a piece in the winning effort for the Twins.
“Everybody’s starting to swing the bats, and it’ll be fun around here when we start to see everyone get going,” said Craig Monroe, who belted a two-run double in a game changing three-run 5h inning.
The Twins improve to 20-17 on the year, which currently is tops in the AL Central by 1.5 games over the Cleveland Indians. After the series, the Red Sox record falls to 24-17, still good enough for best in the AL East where they lead the Tampa Bay Rays by half a game.
Josh Beckett returns to the mound for the Red Sox tonight to try and get them back in the win column. Beckett has logged two wins in a row, and looks to make it three going up against Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie who is 1-3 on the season with a 4.32 ERA has had some success in the past vs. Boston logging 20 2/3 career innings against the Sox with a 2.61 ERA. His most notable performance against Boston came last season on Mother’s Day at Fenway Park when he held the Sox to only 3 hits and 1 unearned run over 8 1/3 innings before he was pulled from the game, only to watch his bullpen blow a 5-0 lead in what is now referred to as “the Mother’s Day Miracle”.
Wednesday’s match up will feature Jon Lester pitching against Daniel Cabrera. Lester is coming off of a no decision while Cabrera hurled a complete game 3-hitter in his last outing for the win.
Following the Baltimore series the Sox will return to Fenway for a 7-game homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals. Tickets are still available for both series!
The reigning 2007 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox picked up right where they left off with today’s 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the inaugural game of the 2008 MLB season. It took the Red Sox 10 innings, some late heroics, and a clutch hitting performance by Manny Ramirez to pick up the win in Tokyo, Japan, but the sold out Tokyo Dome crowd of 44,628 loved every minute of it.
In his return home, Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka’s pitching performance was not at all like what the local fans remembered when the young hurler was last throwing for the Seibu Lions in 2006. Known for his arm strength, it was not uncommon for Matsuzaka to pitch a complete game and throw 140 pitches in his outing. Last season, Red Sox manager Terry Francona made sure to monitor his pitch counts and only allowed the MLB rookie to go the distance on one occasion.
In his season debut, Dice-K threw only 5 innings allowing 2 earned runs on 2 hits. He struck out 6 Athletics while allowing 5 walks on a total of 95 pitches, only 51 for strikes. Both of the earned runs he allowed were scored in the first inning, one coming on a Mark Ellis homerun that cleared the left-center field fence. The walks hurt him early, forcing him to pitch out of two bases loaded situations to get out of the first and second innings.
The Sox trailed 2-0 until they came to bat in the 6th, plating 3 runs on 3 hits. Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a double to deep right. Kevin Youkilis followed up with a walk and both were driven in two batters later on Manny Ramirez’s first double of the season. Brandon Moss would pick up an RBI single that would score Ramirez to help the sox take a 3-2 lead. Moss, who was not in the original starting lineup, came up big in replacing J.D. Drew who was a game time scratch with lower back stiffness.
Kyle Snyder replaced Matsuzaka in the 6th inning and gave up a lead off single to Bobby Crosby, followed by a home run to Jack Hannahan, which put the Athletics back on top 4-3. The duo of former Red Sox relief pitchers Alan Embree and Keith Foulke shut the Sox down in the 7th and 8th innings before handing the ball over to closer Huston Street for the 9th trying to preserve the win.
After retiring Mike Lowell on a fly ball to center field, Street tried to sneak a 2-2 fastball by Brandon Moss which ultimately ended up landing over the right-field wall for Moss’s first major league home run, knotting the game at 4 a piece. Hideki Okajima pitched a scoreless 9th to give the Sox a chance to win the game in extra innings.
In the 10th, the Sox led off with a Julio Lugo infield single. A sacrifice bunt by Pedroia moved Lugo into scoring position with only one out. Youkilis would then strike out swinging, and the Athletics elected not to pitch to David Ortiz with two out, intentionally walking him to face Manny Ramirez.
Not a good idea.
Ramirez would lace a two out double to deep center-field knocking in Lugo and Ortiz for RBI’s number 3 and 4 on the day to put the Sox ahead for good. Jonathan Papelbon would come in and pitch the 10th to record his first save of the year. He allowed three hits and a run in what was a very shaky and nerve racking inning for Sox fans to watch, but in the end he was able to get Kurt Suzuki to ground out with two runners on base to close the game. Okajima recorded the win in front of his countrymen while Street took the loss.
It wasn’t the prettiest victory you’ll see this season, but it was a win nonetheless and the Sox along with Red Sox Nation will take it without question.
Tomorrow in the second game of two on the Japan trip, John Lester will take the hill for the Red Sox and square off against Oakland’s Rich Harden in a match up that features two pitchers who saw limited action last season due to long stints on the DL. Lester’s final outing last season was when we posted the victory in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series in Colorado.
Baseball season is officially underway, which means Bostonians can get back to their lives and stop pretending they like the Bruins. From now until October, its all Sox, all the time!
Red Sox tickets are available for all 2008 games.
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