Red Sox 6, Devil Rays 2
Ramirez ended his longest homerless drought to start a season with a grand slam and a two-run shot for the Red Sox, and Matt Clement won his first start in Boston, a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday night.
“What can I say?” Clement said after pitching seven strong innings. “The guys played great. Manny single-handedly won the game offensively.”
Earlier in the day, Boston manager Terry Francona was asked about Ramirez and reiterated that things will turn around soon. Judging by the slugger’s career numbers it wasn’t a bold prediction, but he was proved correct a few hours later.
“I don’t want to say the first one came out of nowhere,” Francona said, “but he check-swinged the first pitch and he looked a little frustrated and then—boom—he puts on a perfect swing.”
Ramirez hit a two-run shot in the third inning, his 39th at-bat this season. In 2003, he didn’t connect until his 35th at-bat. He hit his 18th grand slam in the sixth.
Clement (1-0), signed as a free agent during the offseason after pitching for the Cubs last year, gave up one run and seven hits while striking out six and walking two.
Boston grabbed a 2-1 lead in the third when Ramirez homered over the seats above the Green Monster. Johnny Damon singled leading off, then moved to third on consecutive wild throws by Dewon Brazelton. The first was on an errant pickoff attempt, and then he threw a wild pitch.
Ramirez, who left the clubhouse before the media arrived after the game, entered the night hitting just .211 with four RBIs.
“It’s bad business walking people in front of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “It’s bad business. … You make the other guys hit the ball.”
Ramirez’s 18 slams are the most among active players and tied for third all-time with Robin Ventura and Willie McCovey. Lou Gehrig leads with 23.
Alex Gonzalez went 4-for-4 with a double and three singles for the Devil Rays.
Brazelton (0-3) remained winless in his career on the road, dropping to 0-12 in 16 starts. He allowed six runs on six hits in 3 2-3 innings while walking six and striking out one.
“There are no excuses for what happened,” Brazelton said. “It was just bad. I was horrible.”
Toby Hall’s RBI single gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead in the second.
It was Ramirez’s 40th career multihomer game. … Tampa Bay’s Jorge Cantu doubled in the second, extending his season-opening hitting streak to 11 games, second longest in Devil Rays’ history behind Rocco Baldelli’s 13 in 2003. … Brazelton is 0-7 in his last 10 starts. … Kevin Millar has two hits in his last 23 at-bats. … The crowd cheered when a note was flashed on the center-field board with the Yankees’ loss and their worst start since 1991.