The Red Sox hope to have their slugger back in the lineup Monday when they try to earn a split of their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.
Ramirez is just three home runs shy of becoming the 24th player ever to reach 500. However, his chase has slowed recently—Ramirez has just one home run in his last 19 games.
A sore right hamstring might be partly to blame, and manager Terry Francona left Ramirez out of the starting lineup for Sunday’s 9-8 loss to the Twins. Francona said that the hamstring appeared to be bothering Ramirez when he ran out a grounder on Saturday, and Ramirez called him Sunday morning to say the leg was sore.
“When he reached for first last night, I thought I saw him (grab) behind his right hamstring, kind of lower,” Francona said. “It looked a little awkward. He called me this morning and said, ‘You know what, it’s kind of sore.’”
Francona, who said that Ramirez will “be OK,” did send Ramirez in to pinch hit with two outs in the ninth on Sunday against closer Joe Nathan. Nathan had already surrendered two runs, but retired Ramirez on a game-ending groundout.
“I had qualms,” Francona admitted. “But to come that far back, (he’s) a pretty good hitter to not have hit.”
The Red Sox (24-16), who have the best record in the AL, battled back from deficits of 5-0 and 7-1, but lost for the third time in five games. Coco Crisp hit his second homer in as many days and also tripled and drove in three runs, while Alex Cora had three hits in his first game back from the disabled list.
Cora started in place of Julio Lugo, who missed his second straight game while recovering from what the team called a mild concussion. Sean Casey rejoined the team after a stint on the disabled list with a strained right hip and will be activated prior to the game, Francona said.
The AL Central-leading Twins (19-17) won with a rare display of power. Minnesota hit three homers—including two from Craig Monroe—in its first game with more than one this season.
The Twins finished the night with one more homer (20) than Kansas City, which ranks last in the majors.
Minnesota will hope to give similar support to Livan Hernandez (5-1, 3.83 ERA), who is coming off perhaps his strongest performance of the season. The Cuban right-hander took a shutout into the ninth inning and allowed only Jermaine Dye’s homer in a complete-game, 13-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
The complete game was Hernandez’s first of the season and the 44th of his career, ranking him eighth among active players.
“What can you say about Livan?” third-base coach and then-acting manager Scott Ullger told the Twins’ official team Web site. “He was just awesome. He was in and out, soft, hard, with his pitches. He had everything working.”
Hernandez, acquired as a free agent in the offseason to give a young rotation some veteran presence, won his second straight start. He has lost both of his previous starts against the Red Sox, earning a 12.38 ERA.
Boston counters with Clay Buchholz (2-2, 4.50), who lasted just four innings Wednesday, giving up five runs and career-high 10 hits without getting a decision in Boston’s 10-9 loss in Detroit. He had held opponents to just three runs in 19 1-3 innings in his previous three starts, going 2-1.
Buchholz, in his first full season in the majors, is making his first start against the Twins.