Sunday, June 8, 2008

Manny Connects in Red Sox Win

Hot" is likely an understatement when describing the weather on Saturday at Fenway Park, but J.D. Drew's bat made its own solid claim to the adjective against the Mariners.
The right fielder tattooed every ball he hit, coming up a double short of the cycle as Boston downed Seattle, 11-3, on a sweltering 86-degree afternoon. Even when Drew didn't reach base in his 3-for-5 day at the plate, he lashed line drives that were snagged by Mariners infielders.
"Everything [Drew hit] was on the nose," manager Terry Francona said. "Up the middle -- the middle of the ballpark. He could have easily had a five-hit day."
It's been a strong past two weeks at the plate for Drew, who is in the midst of a 10-game stretch in which he's batting .457. He's recorded multiple hits in six of those contests and has a seven-game hitting streak overall.
"You have times during your season when you're going through a good stretch and you feel like you're seeing the ball better," Drew said. "And those are nice times, because there are often times when it's tough because you're up there battling to get the hit.
"It's nice to go through a stretch where you feel like you're seeing the ball well."
Drew teamed with leadoff man Coco Crisp in making Seattle starter Miguel Batista appear as if he was throwing batting practice to the Boston lineup. Along with Drew's strong day at the plate, Crisp went 2-for-5 and nearly sent a home run down the right-field line in his first at-bat that hooked foul.
It was Crisp's RBI single immediately following Alex Cora's go-ahead RBI double in the fourth inning that put the Sox up for good with a bit of insurance. The back-to-back RBI hits came in the midst of a two-out rally.
Cora ripped his double to the left-center-field gap. It was chased down but bobbled by left fielder Raul Ibanez, allowing Brandon Moss to score from first base.
"Guys going up there and putting together good [at-bats]," catcher Kevin Cash said. "Batista kind of picks around the plate -- you just have to be patient, and I think we were patient today, as opposed to the last time we were in Seattle."
The Sox put together strong plate appearances all afternoon, drawing six walks from Batista alone -- one being intentional. The Sox drew seven free passes overall.
Manny Ramirez's offensive production put Boston on the board early. Ramirez, who sat out Friday's game to rest his sore right hamstring, stepped into the batter's box and launched a two-run homer in his first at-bat. It was Ramirez's 14th homer of the season and his 504th overall, tying Eddie Murray for 23rd all-time.
Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield said the early run production added to a confident vibe he had coming out of his pregame warmups.
"With the early homer by Manny, it made it a little bit easier for us, and obviously our offense exploded there," Wakefield said. "It's nice to pitch on days like that."
The two-run shot gave Boston a quick lead, but Seattle rallied in the top of the third to knot the game at 2 against Wakefield. Wakefield, whose knuckleball was dancing in the humid Boston air on Saturday, settled down after shaky innings in the first and third. He allowed just two runs on five hits over seven innings of work.
By the time Wakefield was resting in the dugout in the eighth, the Sox had begun unloading more on the Mariners' bullpen.
Boston notched five runs in the eighth inning alone, with the majority of the damage being charged to Mark Lowe. Lowe pitched just one-third of an inning and allowed five runs on four hits. Perhaps the high point in that inning for the Fenway crowd came when Ramirez drew a walk and was replaced by Jacoby Ellsbury, who saw his first action since straining his right wrist in Thursday's game against Tampa Bay.
The huge late-inning surge on top of the early runs was more than enough to seal a Red Sox victory. One night after Boston's normally potent offense was quieted by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, 8-0, the Sox bounced back with a good dose of scoring.
The top of Boston's batting order made sure of that, which made Francona content that his team picked up its intensity after the lopsided loss.
"We did a good job; we played a good game," Francona said. "We scored early and we added on."

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