It took 12 innings, but the Red Sox were certainly smiling on Friday - with Ramirez’s replacement at the center of the celebration.
Boston will look to build on that momentum on Saturday when it continues its series with the struggling Oakland Athletics.
In their first game after trading Ramirez, the Red Sox (62-48) didn’t break out of their recent offensive slump, but they did snap their first three-game home losing streak of the season, improving to 2-5 on their current homestand with a 2-1, 12-inning win over the A’s (53-55) Friday. Boston is 38-16 at home this year.
“Now that it’s past us, we know what we are with this team going forward for the next two months,” catcher Kevin Cash said of the trade to the Red Sox’s official Web site. “Hopefully, we can get on a roll.”
Newcomer Jason Bay - acquired from Pittsburgh as part of the deal that sent Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday - received a standing ovation before his first at-bat and went on to score both of Boston’s runs, tripling in the 12th and coming home on Jed Lowrie’s infield hit.
“Having met these guys eight hours ago, everybody’s been extremely positive,” Bay said. “You jump around with those guys, I felt like I’d been here all year. We were like little kids.”
The Red Sox have still scored just two runs in each of their last three games and are hitting .177 with men in scoring position since the All-Star break. Their 45 runs over that span ranks 13th in the AL - ahead of only Oakland, which has scored 40 runs since the break.
Boston may not need many runs Saturday, with Jon Lester (9-3, 3.17 ERA) on the mound looking to win his seventh straight decision. In his last 10 starts, he’s 6-0 with a 2.77 ERA while the Red Sox have won nine times.
Lester’s last loss came against Oakland on May 25 in his first appearance after he threw a no-hitter against Kansas City six days earlier. In three starts against the A’s this year - two of them in Oakland and one in Japan - Lester is 1-2 with a 4.02 ERA.
He’ll face struggling southpaw Dana Eveland, who has never pitched against the Red Sox. Eveland (7-7, 3.88), who has failed to complete six innings in any of his last five starts, has allowed nine runs, 15 hits and six walks in 9 2-3 innings in his last two outings.
He’s been just a part of Oakland’s struggles lately after the A’s traded away pitchers Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin and Joe Blanton last month. They have dropped four straight and 13 of their last 15 games, scoring three or fewer runs 11 times over that span.
Rookie reliever Brad Ziegler continues to be a bright spot. He tossed two shutout innings Friday to extend his record scoreless innings streak to start a career to 32.
Oakland took four of its first seven games against the Red Sox this season, but Harden and Blanton combined for three wins and none of those games were at Fenway Park, where the A’s have dropped four straight.
For the A’s, Frank Thomas was in the lineup Friday for the first time since May 27 after dealing with a quadriceps injury. Boston may have lost a key player, however, when third baseman Mike Lowell left the game with a hip strain.