It was just a matter of time before Manny Ramirez found his swing.
Carrying an uncharacteristically low .275 average into the Red Sox’s 6-5 win over Toronto on Sunday, Ramirez—a career .316 hitter—was given the day off. Since then, the slugging outfielder is 8-for-12 with a homer and two RBIs in three games, raising his average to .333.
“He was going through a rough time there for a couple of days before he was off,” Sox manager Grady Little said. “He took that time working in the cage to get himself back on track.”
Despite Ramirez’s anemic power numbers over the first 18 games—seven extra-base hits, 11 RBIs—the Red Sox won 13 thanks to the trio of Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar and Shea Hillenbrand, who have combined for 11 homers and 52 RBIs.
Even though Ramirez is starting to heat up, the Red Sox have dropped two of three, including a 6-1 loss on Wednesday.
Boston had all types of problems with Texas right-hander John Thomson, managing just a single run and six hits in his seven innings.
Having split their last 10, the Rangers could use a win to establish some momentum heading into a weekend series with the league-leading New York Yankees.
Hank Blalock went 3-for-4 on Wednesday, raising his average to a team-high .422. He is now well within striking distance of the club record for April— .446 by Ivan Rodriguez—with six games left in the month.
Rangers center fielder Doug Glanville had surgery Wednesday to repair a ruptured hamstring tendon behind his right knee and will be sidelined for about four more weeks.
STANDINGS: Red Sox - 2nd place, 4 GB, AL East. Rangers - 4th place, 4 GB, AL West.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Derek Lowe (3-1, 3.86 ERA). Lowe split his first two starts, but allowed 10 earned runs over 11 1-3 innings. However, he hasn’t allowed an earned run since, permitting just 12 hits and two unearned runs over 12 innings. He walked three and struck out five over five innings in a 7-2 win over Toronto on Saturday. Lowe is 2-2 with five saves and a 2.08 ERA in 22 career appearances, including three starts, against the Rangers.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Ryan Drese (1-1, 11.05 ERA). Drese rebounded from a terrible outing against Seattle in which he allowed five earned runs in just one-third of an inning to beat Anaheim last Thursday. The right-hander allowed four earned runs, struck out eight and walked four over seven innings in a 9-7 win. Drese is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA in three appearances, including two starts, against the Red Sox.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Trot Nixon, .351 avg.; Millar and Garciaparra, 5 HRs; Hillenbrand, 22 RBIs; Garciaparra, 18 runs; Damian Jackson and Johnny Damon, 4 SBs. Rangers - Blalock, .422 avg.; Carl Everett, Alex Rodriguez, 7 HRs and 16 runs; Juan Gonzalez, 13 RBIs; Rodriguez, Michael Young and Glanville, 2 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Red Sox, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - As maligned as the Boston bullpen has been over the first three weeks of the season, RHP and setup man Mike Timlin is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA. … LHP Alan Embree, placed on the disabled list April 12 with shoulder tendinitis, could be activated when Boston returns from a six-game road trip next week. Little said Embree was impressive in a throwing session on Monday. Embree has a 12.27 ERA in four appearances. … The Red Sox have won the last three season series against the Rangers. Boston has a 17-9 record against Texas dating to the 2000 season. Rangers - INF Herbert Perry will start hitting on Thursday if he has no setbacks from numerous injuries. Perry went on the DL March 24 with a sore right shoulder and left knee bruise, then strained his left oblique muscle on a rehab assignment at Double-A Frisco. … RHP Todd Van Poppel gave up one earned run in four innings in a rehabilitation start for Frisco. He allowed four hits and struck out one. … Texas starters have pitched at least six innings in eight of the past 10 games. They have a 3.67 ERA during that span.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 7-5 on the road; Rangers - 6-6 at home.
INJURIES: Red Sox - LHP Embree (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Matt White (right oblique), 15-day DL. Rangers - IF Perry (knee), 15-day DL; OF Glanville (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Jay Powell (vertigo), 15-day DL; RHP Van Poppel (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.